Bucks make incredibly high-risk gamble by taking AJ Johnson: Analysis & Reaction

This one certainly came out of nowhere.
NBL Rd 16 - Illawarra Hawks v Cairns Taipans
NBL Rd 16 - Illawarra Hawks v Cairns Taipans / Mark Metcalfe/GettyImages

Leading up to the 2024 NBA Draft, it felt like the Milwaukee Bucks would opt for a center or a wing, two areas this roster desperately needed reinforcements at.

Well, despite players like Ryan Dunn, Kyshawn George and Terrence Shannon Jr. all still being on the board, the Bucks shocked many when they picked point guard AJ Johnson with the 23rd overall pick.

Reaction to the Bucks taking AJ Johnson

With the Milwaukee Bucks needing to win right now, it felt like going for one of the more seasoned prospects in this draft would have been the proper play. Instead, they opted for one of the youngest players in the class, as Johnson was born in 2004. He's a player who won't be ready to contribute right away, which makes this selection all the more puzzling for Milwaukee.

Perhaps the most troubling stat is that Johnson is just 167-pounds, per NBA.com. A player of that size could undenaibly get bullied by bigger - even average-sized - players at the next level. That is not going to help fix Milwaukee's defensive issues on the perimeter.

Johnson's stats don't jump off the page. In 26 games this past season, he averaged just 2.9 points, 1.3 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game. The front office must have been flat-out fascinated with something they saw from Johnson, but on the surface, this is the definition of a head-scratcher.

Sure, there are some things to like about Johnson. He's got good size at 6-foot-4 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan, and he's quick, so he can help Milwaukee's transition woes. However, how quickly will he be ready to put those attributes to good use? It's just an incredibly questionable move from a team that is in the position Milwaukee is.

Dunn or Shannon would have been the far safer pick here. The Bucks don't have time to wait for a young player to develop, but that's exactly what they seem to be content with.

It hurts to say that it's tough to envision him playing a meaningful role next season, which is the type of player this team needed.

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