3 former lottery picks for Milwaukee Bucks to take a flyer on in free agency

Feb 15, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 15, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /
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Milwaukee Bucks: Grayson Allen. Indiana Pacers: Jalen Smith
Feb 15, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Jalen Smith is a former lottery pick for the Milwaukee Bucks in free agency

I can’t get enough of guys that were originally drafted by the Phoenix Suns, can I? Jalen Smith would easily be the best of these options so that means he’ll also cost more but has the higher upside of the group as well.

Smith played so well down the stretch with the Indiana Pacers that I’d be a little surprised if they let him walk as an unrestricted free agent or if he decided to leave since he’ll have an opportunity there, but the Bucks need depth in the frontcourt depth and he would be a great fit if Portis departed in free agency. He was a potential low-cost trade addition at the deadline for the Bucks but he likely wouldn’t get the same chance as he did with the Pacers.

Smith was the 10th overall pick in the 2020 draft by the Suns but didn’t quite find success with Phoenix in his first season and a half before being traded to Indiana.

In 22 games (four starts) Smith looked more like a top 10 pick as he averaged 13.4 points on 62.8 percent true shooting, 7.6 rebounds, and 1.0 blocks. The biggest development was that he found his 3-point touch, shooting over 37 percent from deep on nearly four attempts per game but he also shot 76 percent at the rim.

This wouldn’t be as much of a reclamation project as Culver or Jackson since he showed significant promise with the Pacers but it would be more about building on that success and doing it consistently for a full season.

Smith’s combination of long-range shooting, solid rebounding, and shot-blocking make him a very interesting free agent that should get a decent amount of interest from teams in need of big man depth.

Perhaps Smith wants to re-join a contender after playing with the Suns for the first year and a half of his career while knowing that he won’t have as big of a role. He would definitely make for an interesting free-agent addition given his 22-game sample at the end of last season.

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The Milwaukee Bucks need to explore all avenues in tweaking their bench to maximize their window of contention with Giannis Antetokounmpo in his prime.