The Milwaukee Bucks were not placed under the spotlight during the 2021 NBA Daft, but they found themselves in the news regardless.
While it was not as exciting as many hoped, the Bucks did make a trade with the Indiana Pacers by shipping their 31st overall pick in exchange for picks 54, 56, and two future second rounders. It was a questionable move at the time as the Bucks could have surely gotten a potential first round talent with that opening pick in the second round. However, fans would have to wait and see who the team would take before making any assumptions.
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They would spend No. 54 on Seton Hall big man Sandro Mamukelashvili, who is an interesting player, to say the least. Soon after, they would utilize the final pick of the draft by selecting Georgios Kalaitzakis from Greece.
What exactly Kalaitzakis will bring to the table for the Bucks is unknown at this moment as it seems safe to say that no one was expecting this pick, but let us take a look at the instant reactions from both draft picks.
Sandro Mamukelashvili and Georgios Kalaitzakis are interesting picks for the Milwaukee Bucks at No. 54 and 60 overall
Many immediately opened up their search bar after the Bucks selected Mamukelashvili to get a better understanding of his skills, and they may have been pleasantly surprised. What stood out the most from the big man was his stellar passing ability, throwing many highlight-reel-worthy passes to his teammates with consistency during his four-year stay at Seton Hall. Unless you are Giannis Antetokounmpo or reigning league MVP Nikola Jokic, pristine passing like that is rare for a 6’11” big man.
During his senior year, Mamukelashvili would enjoy his best collegiate season by averaging 17.5 points, 7.6 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game. His efforts would help him earn 2020-21 Big East Player of the Year honors and a 2020-21 All-Big East nomination. Numbers and accolades like that are certainly enticing, but the biggest knock on the big man is his lackluster 3-point shot, as he knocked down just 33.9 percent of his triples during those four years.
With Mamukelashvili, it seems like the Bucks were aiming to get some much-needed frontcourt depth. Of course, a tough decision will have to be made by Bobby Portis soon regarding his player option. Losing Portis seems increasingly feasible as he will likely decline the option to test free agency, and drafting a big man with high upside like this is not the worst move possible.
Meanwhile, Kalaitzakis was certainly not on many mock drafts. With so little known about him, looking at his stats from playing overseas to try and decipher exactly what kind of player he is what many immediately did after hearing the pick. Judging by his numbers in stints with the Panathinaikos in the Greek Basketball League and the Panathinaikos OPAP in the Euroleague for the 2020-21 season, Kalaitzakis needs some work.
Playing 11 games for Panathinaikos, Kalaitzakis would average 3.9 points while shooting 37.5 percent (12-of-32) from the field, including 21.1 percent (4-of-19) from deep across 12.5 minutes per game. In 14 games with Panathinaikos OPAP, his numbers would decrease by averaging just 1.6 points, 0.6 rebounds, and 0.1 assists in 4.4 minutes per game. Numbers like that undeniably do not jump off the page.
That biggest eyesore here would be his shooting numbers, as the newest Buck shot just 5-of-21 from behind the arc this year. Looking at his career numbers, it does not get much better as he has hit just 12 triples in 62 attempts over eight seasons. For a Milwaukee team that relies heavily on shooting, this pick might seem rather puzzling. Kalaitzakis certainly is not a shooter, and his inability to shoot from the perimeter will place him in an odd predicament.
Kalaitzakis is only 22-years-old at this point and there is certainly room to grow. He is an interesting case standing at 6’7″ and could potentially be a player that the team stashes in hopes that he could develop over time. Many are rightfully confused by the pick as the dust starts to settle from an odd draft night, and only time will tell if this pick will ultimately pay off.
Of course, the last time the Bucks drafted a fairly unknown prospect from Greece they ended up with Giannis Antetokounmpo in the 2013 NBA Draft, and that worked out pretty well. That is not to say Kalaitzakis will eventually become an MVP and lead this franchise to glory, but he deserves a shot at some point to showcase what he brings to the table.