This past March, the Milwaukee Bucks did something they haven't done in recent years—get the better end of a trade.
Just before the trade deadline, Milwaukee general manager John Hammond sent forward Stephen Jackson and center Andrew Bogut to the Golden State Warriors.
When healthy, Andrew Bogut proved to be one of the best big men in the league; however, at this point, he seems to be held together by a dab of Elmer's glue and a couple pieces of duct tape. Despite Stephen Jackson's inconsistent effort, he was consistent in his attempt to make head coach Scott Skiles pull out what hair still remained on his shiny head.
With Bogut on the sideline and Jackson in the proverbial "doghouse," neither player was helping the Bucks.
So, Milwaukee's end of the trade looked pretty good when they received Monta Ellis and Ekpe Udoh in return for the two ineffective players. The trade resulted in the Bucks having one of the quicker backcourts in the entire league in Ellis and Brandon Jennings, but Milwaukee ultimately missed the playoffs with a 31-35 record.
Heading into the offseason, the Bucks face several question marks.
One of the most improved players in basketball, Ersan Ilyasova, just finished the last year of his contract with Milwaukee, and it's unknown as to if he'll return to the team in 2012.
As things currently stand, the Bucks' best two players are 6'1" Brandon Jennings and 6'3" Monta Ellis. While it's been speculated that Jennings will try to leave Milwaukee when his contract expires, he and Ellis both remain under contract through next season. Jennings has a standing qualifying offer and Ellis has a player option for the 2013-2014 season.
If the Bucks are "set" at any one position, it's point guard.
However, they could use help anywhere else.
The Bucks aren't likely to earn the top pick in the draft, they have just a .7 percent chance of doing so. However, their 2.5 percent chance at cracking the top three picks is (poor) reason for (slight) optimism.
In all likelihood, Milwaukee won't be the landing spot for highly-touted Kentucky big man Anthony Davis, but the Bucks could find themselves an immediate starter elsewhere.
Milwaukee's lack of talent across the board provides them the ability to take the best non-point guard available. Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson and Connecticut big man Andre Drummond have both been mentioned as potential top three picks, but I think one of Anthony Davis's teammates at Kentucky would be a perfect fit with Scott Skiles in Milwaukee.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is an elite athlete with a complete skill set, and what sets him apart from most swingmen in the NBA is his motor reminiscent of the Energizer bunny.
As a former point guard, Bucks head coach Scott Skiles values defense and unselfishness above any other single trait, and Kidd-Gilchrist has both. However, for the Bucks to land Kidd-Gilchrist in the draft, the ping pong balls would need to do a big favor for Milwaukee at the Lottery.
The numbers suggest Milwaukee will have to search for a difference maker somewhere around the 12th selection in the draft.
Fortunately for the Bucks, there will be several big men and a handful of guard-forwards available at that point in the draft. As far as post players, college standouts Jared Sullinger of Ohio State and Tyler Zeller of North Carolina both figure to come off the board around the 12th pick. Picking in the lottery, teams would prefer for a better result than a Sean May or Tyler Hansbrough, which is exactly what I see Sullinger and Zeller as being.
One post player I like for the Bucks at this point in the draft is Baylor's Perry Jones. While he was very impressive as a freshman in 2010, he failed to build on his first year on campus during his sophomore campaign.
Standing 6'11" with an 7'2.5" wingspan, the super athletic Jones has the ability to play inside and outside on both ends of the court. If Ilyasova signs elsewhere this offseason, Jones's length could be a vital asset for Milwaukee.
As frustrating as it's been in recent years for Bucks fans, John Hammond has weeded through some poor trades and put some solid pieces in place, and Milwaukee will now has the chance to cure some if its deficiencies via the 2012 draft.
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