Milwaukee Bucks: Jon Horst will look to improve on 2017 draft performance

MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 22: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WI - JANUARY 22: (Photo by Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The 2018 NBA Draft is upon us, and Milwaukee Bucks general manager Jon Horst will be looking for players who can offer more of an impact than last year’s picks.

On June 16, 2017, Jon Horst was chosen to be the new general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks. Six days later, he was tasked with drafting the 2017 class of the quickly rising young Bucks.

D.J. Wilson, the offensive-minded forward from Michigan, was drafted at 17th overall, and received the majority of his playing time in the G League. He did play 22 games in the NBA, but only averaged about three minutes per game.

Sterling Brown, the second round pick out of SMU, was acquired by the Bucks via trade. Although he didn’t necessarily make a spot in the rotation his own, he made some valuable contributions late in the year. Brown did also start four of his 54 games this year, averaging 14 minutes per game.

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These are far from the worst two picks in the world. Brown, in particular, showed signs of promise, and it’s still early enough for Wilson to improve and develop considerably too.

However, the developing Bucks could’ve used more well-rounded and NBA-ready players to bolster their bench. With a season for the 2017 class now behind us, we can see that there was plenty of talent available that could have fit that bill too.

John Collins

Despite being drafted 19th overall, John Collins quickly established himself as a potential future star for the Atlanta Hawks and a capable role player right away. The former Wake Forest Demon Deacon averaged 10.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 1.1 block per game as a rookie.

Those contributions not only earned him a starting role late in the year, but also a spot in this year’s All-Rookie Second Team.

Jarrett Allen

Following Tyler Zeller‘s trade to the Bucks, Jarret Allen’s role with the Nets increased further. He’d earned his late season starting spot by shooting 58.9 percent from the field, leaving Kenny Atkinson eager to give him playing time to develop further. On top of his 8.2 points and 5.4 rebounds per game, Allen also averaged more than a block per game.

Allen was drafted 22nd overall, and could certainly have offered an alternative to Wilson for the Bucks.

Kyle Kuzma

On top of his roast battles with fellow rookie teammate Lonzo Ball, the 27th overall pick, Kyle Kuzma, also had an extremely successful season. The All-Rookie First team forward averaged 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game while shooting 36 percent from distance.

At almost 23, Kuzma’s upside may be limited, yet he’s only a few months older than Wilson and at least showed the ability to perform at an NBA level as a rookie.

Related Story: Milwaukee Bucks: Ruminations heading into the 2018 NBA Draft

So is it all Horst’s fault that the Bucks may have missed these diamonds in the rough? Probably not. Draft rooms are stuffed with scouts, coaches, and executives who all give their opinions on who should be the future of the franchise, and considering how Milwaukee’s GM search played out last summer, it’s safe to say preparations were far from ideal.

Two things are certain, though. Firstly, Horst will be blamed or praised for any draft decisions made by the Bucks. That comes with the territory for NBA GMs. Secondly, he will be constantly compared to former Bucks GM John Hammond.

Hammond had a solid draft record, acquiring Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, John Henson, Malcolm Brogdon, and Thon Maker in his last five drafts. Hammond recruited most of the current key players currently on the Bucks roster. The successes or failures of this squad will be attached to Horst’s reputation, however, and the 2018 Draft is a great time to make an impact.

There are going to be quality options available to the Bucks with their 17th pick, and just as last year highlighted, there’ll be the potential to find a gem or overlook one. No matter who Horst selects at 17, it will be a big decision, though. The Bucks are in need of immediate contributors to help them take the next step, and as contracts continue to wind down in years and ratchet up in price, the stakes become much greater.

Next: NBA Mock Draft 2018: Who should the Milwaukee Bucks pick at 17?

Bucks fans have a reason to trust Horst after the well-orchestrated Bledsoe trade. He has proven he can make good decisions to improve the team in the present. Now, he must show he can positively influence the team’s future too.