Bucks draft: Evaluating the options at No. 17


With the NBA draft about three weeks away, the Milwaukee Bucks find themselves in an interesting position.  Despite their young core and bright future, there are still many uncertainties surrounding the club. The Bucks draft is just one of those.

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Although almost all Bucks fans would like to brush this aside and hope everything will be fine, there will be questions about Jabari Parker‘s knee and how it will hold up going into next season.

We still don’t know where the Bucks stand with re-signing restricted free agent Khris Middleton.

How much will Michael Carter-Williams actually improve given a full off-season with his new team, if at all?

Do the Bucks have Zaza Pachulia or John Henson in their future plans at center or are they going to use some of their significant cap space to bring in a big name?

The future of Khris Middleton and how the Bucks plan on spending some of their free agent money will be the two biggest tells into who they end up drafting.  Milwaukee struggled scoring in 2013-14, ranking 22nd in the league with just 97.8 points per game.  With or without Middleton, Milwaukee is going to need help on the offensive end of the ball.

The shooting struggles of MCW have been well documented since his arrival to Milwaukee, and everyone agrees that it needs to get better.  Given the circumstances, shooting is a big need for Milwaukee right now.  Two names in this year’s draft have risen to the top to fill the void.  They are R.J. Hunter of Georgia State and Devin Booker of Kentucky.

Jan 24, 2015; Atlanta, GA, USA; Georgia State Panthers guard R.J. Hunter (22) drives against Louisiana Lafayette Ragin Cajuns forward Brian Williams (31) in the second half of their game at GSU Sports Arena. Georgia State won 75-64. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Hunter is a fantastic shooter, has a quick release, and almost no range limit on the court.  However, his lanky 6-foot-5, 175-pound frame is something most NBA players would be able to take advantage of in terms of physicality.  One thing Hunter has over Booker, though, is his length.

Hunter has a 6-foot-10 wingspan and would fit in well with the other Gumby-like players Milwaukee has.  If coach Jason Kidd and his staff can turn Hunter’s length and basketball intelligence into another formidable defensive player, then expect Hunter to be the pick.

Booker is also a great shooter, although I think Hunter is the best one in the draft.  Booker is a bigger player, listed at 6-foot6 and 206 pounds, but has a smaller wingspan than Hunter (6-foot-8). Booker would be more of a liability on the defensive end as he is not as quick as Hunter and would be very limited in who he could effectively guard.

Hunter seems like a more versatile player, a better shooter, and has more upside than Booker.  Milwaukee has already shown that they’re willing to take risks on young, raw players from unknown areas.  (Georgia State and Greece are comparable, right?)  If it came down to Hunter or Booker, I would take Hunter and expect Milwaukee to do the same.

Now there’s a good chance that Milwaukee doesn’t even try to address their shooting need in the first round.  The consensus going into the offseason seemed to be shooting and size needed to be addressed.

I think a lot of people, myself guilty of this the most, took a lot of what Zaza did for granted.  His consistent, just-above-average play was something we could rely on every night.  A big man that has been projected to land in Milwaukee this draft is Arkansas forward Bobby Portis.

Mar 19, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks forward Bobby Portis (10) looks for an open teammate as Wofford Terriers forward C.J. Neumann (31) defends in the second half of a game in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Jacksonville Veteran Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

I mention Zaza because Portis’ game is actually quite similar.  Both players rebound well, have a very good mid-range game, have a very limited back-to-the-basket game and bring an edge with them every time they step on the floor.  It’s no secret Milwaukee needs big bodies in the paint after watching games last season.

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  • I had to get excited when Miles Plumlee would enter games just because I had to hope for some kind of improvement.  Let me repeat that.  I had to get excited when Miles Plumlee would enter games.

    These are just three names we’ve heard about the most, but of course Milwaukee could go a number of a different ways.

    If I had to pick, I think R.J. Hunter would be a great fit with what the Bucks are trying to do.  His shooting is something Milwaukee desperately needs and he’s the best one in the draft.  He has length and could be a perfect fit on the defensive end.

    Now before we all start guessing Milwaukee’s pick, I think it’s important to understand where we’re at this year.  This isn’t the No. 2 pick and we’re not getting another Jabari Parker.  Very rarely does the 17th overall pick make a substantial impact on a team, as most of the time you’re just hoping for a solid, contributing role player.

    That’s what Portis, Hunter, Booker, or any other player should be expected to do.  Anything added to that is just a plus.  Milwaukee’s future is not relying on R.J. Hunter to score 25 points a game next year.  Milwaukee has its core in place, now it’s time to be smart while building around it.

    Next: Bucks Change Course On Pre-Draft Workouts

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