So for the majority of this offseason, many expected that hole to be filled with the No. 12 pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, but on Wednesday, Milwaukee addressed its need at center by acquiring veteran Samuel Dalembert from the Houston Rockets.
Along with the No. 12 pick, Milwaukee traded a trio of replaceable players in Jon Leuer, Jon Brockman and Shaun Livingston to Houston for the No. 14 pick and Dalembert.
The trade looks like a slam-dunk for the Bucks, who added a starting center by moving down just two spots in the draft. Between the Ellis acquisition prior to last season’s trade deadline, and Wednesday’s trade for Dalembert, Milwaukee seems to have twice done something it hasn’t done very often in recent years—get the better end of a trade.
Prior to Wednesday’s deal, Milwaukee looked like it was in prime position to add either Tyler Zeller or Meyers Leonard in the first round of the draft, but the acquisition of Dalembert makes the Bucks’ need for a center far less pressing.
Although clearly not among the upper echelon of teams in the Eastern Conference, the Bucks certainly have some quality talent on their roster.
As things currently stand, their starting lineup looks like a solid unit. Point guard Brandon Jennings and shooting guard Monta Ellis combine to form one of the most potent scoring duos, and perhaps the quickest backcourt in the entire NBA. Defensive ace Luc Richard Mbah-a-Moute figures to be the starter at small forward, with Drew Gooden at power forward and Dalembert as the center.
Instead of dismantling their team in an effort to upgrade their small forward position, the Bucks should stand pat at No. 14 and address their lack of depth across the board.
The backcourt combination of Jennings and Ellis can cause nightmares for teams lacking superior athleticism. However, with both players being less than 6’ 3” tall, the dynamic duo has limitations, especially on the defensive end.
Despite guard being likely their strongest position, the Bucks are very likely to have several perimeter players on their radar when they’re on the clock at No. 14.
Florida’s Brad Beal is certain to come off the board somewhere in the first three picks, and both Dion Waiters of Syracuse, and Austin Rivers of Duke will likely follow suit as top 10 selections.
If the Bucks want to add length and versatility to their backcourt with the No. 14 pick, they may have a match made in basketball heaven in the form of Washington guard Terrence Ross.
At 6’ 7”, with the ability to create his own shot and guard positions one through three, Ross would give the Bucks’ backcourt exactly what it needs. After labeling him as a “surprise lottery pick” about a month ago, then ranking him fourth on my list of the Bucks’ top five draft targets prior to the Dalembert trade, Ross should now be the top priority for Milwaukee with the No. 14 pick.
It’s rare for someone outside the top ten picks to have All-Star potential, but Ross has the skill set to develop into that type of player several years down the road.
In 31.1 minutes per game last season, Ross averaged 16.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game playing a combination of both shooting guard and small forward. Not only did he demonstrate a fearlessness taking the ball to the basket and challenging opposing post players, Ross shot a respectable 37 percent behind the three-point arc.
In the event that Ross is already off the board at No. 14, the Bucks could look to replace stretch forward Ersan Ilyasova, as it seems quite likely that he’ll sign elsewhere as an unrestricted free agent.
If the Bucks want to keep pace with last year’s team, they may look to keep up with the Joneses with their top pick, as outlined by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Baylor’s Perry Jones and Kentucky’s Terrence Jones both put the NBA on hold last offseason in favor of returning to school to chase a National Championship.
Terrence and Kentucky ended Perry’s run with Baylor in the South Regional Finals and earned a trip to the Final Four in New Orleans.
Although Terrence was the only one of the two to achieve his goal of winning a National Championship, both players are borderline lottery picks and neither will have to wait much past the middle of the first round to hear their name called.
Of the two Joneses, Perry has the most potential. It seems like a classic case of “boom or bust,” or “feast or famine” with Perry—he could either be a smashing success by building up his game to an All-Star level, or he could fizzle into obscurity within a few years.
Terrence, on the other hand, looks like the safer pick between the two. Although he may not have as high of a “ceiling” as Perry does, Terrence will likely be a reliable role player for a very long time in the NBA.
Milwaukee seemed to have numerous options with its first-round pick prior to Wednesday’s trade, but now their priorities seem to be coming into focus. If they can add either Terrence -- Ross or Jones -- or either Jones -- Terrence or Perry -- the Bucks will be prepared to lock horns with the rest of the Eastern Conference in 2012.