Milwaukee Bucks Draft Impossible: Acquiring Jahlil Okafor


Jahlil Okafor is a machine. A man amongst boys in the college basketball world. A mere 19 years old, yet a baffling 270 pounds and averaging 18 points and eight rebounds a game in his freshman season at Duke.

Okafor is the consensus No. 1 overall prospect, according to NBA draft experts. So naturally, my biased mind fascinates in the unrealistic possibility of him playing in a Milwaukee Bucks uniform, and what it would realistically take to bring Okafor to Milwaukee.

More from Milwaukee Bucks

But before we begin, let us take a step back and analyze why a transaction of this magnitude would even need to take place. After all, Milwaukee has all but solidified a sixth seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, and value will continue to grow as the young corps of players progress further.

My apologies to the Milwaukeeans who are already sporting a 2015 Bucks NBA Finals tattoo, but the idea of this team making a championship run is simply impractical. And to be brutally honest, if this team does not have the possibility of winning in the first round against the likes of Atlanta, Cleveland, and Toronto, Milwaukee is then no better off from the Herb Kohl years of mediocrity.

To be bold, the Bucks need a title. And the missing link is a giant, destructive, Herculean-type center. A standout like Okafor can be this final piece to the puzzle, not to mention a significant improvement over Milwaukee’s last option in Larry Sanders.

In short, imagine Larry Sanders 2.0 who actually wants to play basketball and has put on 40 pounds. Perhaps a more proper comparison includes the tiny aliens in Space Jam swelling into the Monstars. THIS COULD BE US, MILWAUKEE!

The obvious issue is how the Bucks front office would actually go about acquiring Okafor, and the takeaways required. But unfortunately, our hypothetical lacks in historical analysis as No. 1 overall picks are rarely on the move. In fact, only five No. 1 picks have not ended up playing for the team that drafted them (via

And even more strange is the fact that two of those five occurred because the player either didn’t want to play pro ball, or was arrested due to point-shaving.

Our minds will jump to the most recent example of the Cleveland Cavaliers sending No. 1 overall picks Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of Kevin Love‘s move to Cleveland. Remember though that this trade needed help from the Philadelphia 76ers to sweeten the deal with Thaddeus Young to Minnesota as well.

History will also remind us of the 1993 Chris WebberAnfernee Hardaway trade. The Orlando Magic, after originally drafting Webber with the first selection, sent the 6-foot-10 Michigan “Fab Five” power forward to Golden State in exchange for Hardaway and three future first-round draft picks to be used in 1996, 1998, and 2000.

Needless to say, the asking price for the top draft pick is ridiculously high, even moving up from the third draft slot. This is where our hypothetical proves to be difficult. In order for Milwaukee to acquire Okafor and compete with past transactions, the Bucks would likely have to trade Jabari Parker in combination with three future first-round picks.

And that’s just to swap 2015 first-rounders.

Ridiculous, right? Milwaukee would be in a more advantageous position if they could manage the trade without moving any young assets. The Bucks starting lineup could then look like the following:

PG Michael Carter-Williams
SG Khris Middleton
SF Giannis Antetokoumpo
PF Jabari Parker
C Jahlil Okafor

Veteran leadership could provide support off the bench (Jared Dudley, Zaza Pachulia), but the ultimate goal would be to keep these starters together. A certain learning curve is to be expected. But following certain development, imagine what that roster could accomplish three seasons from now.

So how does a team obtain the number one overall pick without giving away major assets? Quite simply, an outright commitment to the current roster with a fire sale of the next few years. As mentioned before, teams like the Knicks, Timberwolves, and 76ers would happily take a young star and three future first-round picks.

But in order to keep Parker, would those same front offices accept five future first-round picks?

Pure insanity. An absolute buy-in to the young starting five mentioned before. Risking five future seasons of growth on one player.

One could argue, however, that this is precisely what Philadelphia is doing now; just in reverse. Sam Hinkie and the 76ers front office are perfectly comfortable throwing away the next five years in order to collect top assets. Milwaukee, on the other hand, would sacrifice the next five to ensure that change happens in the present.

Additionally, the Bucks would have an entire starting five on rookie contracts. And better yet, have the capacity to resign each and keep them at least through 2019. Grantland’s Zach Lowe has detailed a projected salary cap boom which has NBA teams dreaming of a free agent feeding frenzy.

And while the Bucks would certainly have the capacity to sign a free agent center, one easily forgets that Milwaukee is not a prime destination and can only realistically attract B or C level talent.

Rather, buy in to a young corps of players and grow them into the next small market contender. Admittedly, this could very easily turn into a Greg Oden-Portland scenario in which case Milwaukee would sucker punch themselves in the mouth for the next half-decade.

But with great risk, comes great reward. Take the chance of a lifetime and Milwaukee could be a legit contender in 3-4 years. It has been far too long since the Bucks have hoisted a relevant team banner to the top of the Bradley Center, and the time is now. Or at the very least, could provoke an NBA Draft crowd reaction not seen since 1993.