The Milwaukee Bucks will be drafting second in the NBA draft, which means they'll be able to get almost anyone they want. That greatly simplifies things, as there are probably no more than four players they will consider taking on draft night.
First, let's establish what the Bucks are working with on their roster to establish what needs they have, and that's also embarrassingly easy to do. There are essentially two players they have worth building around—small forward Giannis "CTRL+C/CTRL+V" Antetokounmpo and center Larry Sanders.
That means the Bucks would prefer to be looking for a draft pick to fill one of the other three positions.
Option One: Andrew Wiggins
The Bucks don't care who the Cleveland Cavaliers take with the No. 1 pick—as long as it's not Andrew Wiggins out of Kansas because he is the best possible selection for Milwaukee.
Per Draft Express, Wiggins is an ultra-long 2, standing 6'8" and boasting a wingspan of 7'0". Next to Antetokounmpo, whose 7'3" reach is even wider than his name, the Bucks would have Stretch and Stretchier—who are also ridiculously athletic—as their wings of the future.
Wiggins needs more time to develop than Jabari Parker, the other wing with franchise-player potential in the draft. Since Wiggins is a shooting guard, Milwaukee would not have to play Antetokounmpo out of position. And frankly, another year of being bad could be in the Bucks' best interest.
Bucks general manager John Hammond thought he had his shooting guard of the future in O.J. Mayo, whom he signed as a free agent last summer. Mayo was given a lavish, three-year, $24 million guaranteed contract. He didn't come close to earning his paycheck.
Mayo was plagued by injuries and personal issues and played in just 52 games this season. He shot a pedestrian 40.7 percent from the field and averaged 11.7 points. It's no secret the Bucks would be willing to trade him, although that will be easier said than done because of his inflated contract.
If the Bucks can, they take Wiggins.
Option Two: Jabari Parker
Duke's Jabari Parker is probably the most NBA-ready player right now. He has an offensive arsenal that has NBADraft.net comparing him to Carmelo Anthony.
He's going to provide the most immediate help. Per Chad Ford of ESPN.com (subscription required), "Parker has his fans, too. He's widely considered the safest player in the draft and the guy who can have an instant impact on Day 1."
Safe has its virtues; just ask Cleveland, who didn't play it safe last year and failed in reaching for Anthony Bennett with the No. 1 pick.
The Bucks are in need of a go-to scorer, and Parker would fit the bill. The only problem with him is he plays the 3, and as previously discussed, that's a position filled by Antetokounmpo.
The Greek Alphabet doesn't have as much upside as Parker, but he has too much talent to bring off the bench. That might mean him playing out of position at the 2. Per 82games.com, he did some of that this year, with roughly a third of his minutes coming at shooting guard.
However, his player efficiency rating was higher at the 3 (16.0) than at the 2 (15.1). He's a better small forward than shooting guard. Playing him as a 2-guard is a viable option but not an optimal one.
If the Cavs take Wiggins at No. 1, look for the Bucks to take Parker with No. 2.
Option Three: Joel Embiid
The third option the Bucks have is Joel Embiid, the center from Kansas.
Ford (subscription required) has Embiid second on his draft board. So does Draft Express. It would make sense, therefore, that if the Bucks go with the "best player available" approach, they would take him.
There are a three reasons why the Bucks might be hesitant to do so, though. First, playing Sanders at the 4 isn't much of an option, and they'd have to either do that or put him on the trading block.
Second, the last time the Bucks had a pick this high was in 2005 when they took Andrew Bogut with the No. 1 pick. Bogut played well enough when he played, but he was injured so often that they eventually traded him.
Embiid missed the NCAA tournament as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back, and that, combined with the Bogut history, could make the Bucks hesitant to pull the trigger on him.
The last thing to consider is that there was a time when the most important part of winning was a dominant big man. Now, it's a dominant perimeter player. Since the 2004-05 season, when the rule changes opening up the lanes were completed, nine of the 10 MVPs have been perimeter players. Prior to that, 16 of 49 were low-post players.
Still, dominant centers are harder to come by than dominant wings, so the Bucks could go with Embiid if the Cavs take Wiggins.
Option Four: Dante Exum
The last thing the Bucks could do is look to the Aussie, Dante Exum, an explosive combo guard.
Peter Bukowski of Sports Illustrated raves about Exum:
At his size, there are some similarities in his game to Evan Turner: a big guard who can play either backcourt spot, initiate the offense, score when needed and play solid defense. But his ceiling far exceeds Turner, who is a more limited athlete in terms of quickness.
Exum has shown the foot speed to beat guards off the dribble and frequently get to the rim. His first step is absolutely lethal. He also possesses a 6-foot-9 wingspan, and while he isn't explosive dunker, he can finish around the rim with an array of moves with either hand.
Milwaukee could certainly use his playmaking ability. The only problem is that he might not justify the No. 2 pick in the draft. Ideally, it could trade down and take him. The Utah Jazz would love to get Parker and might be looking to combine picks to trade up, according to Jody Genessy of the Deseret News:
The problem is that the Orlando Magic love Exum and are drafting No. 4. Virtually every mock draft you look at has him going to the Magic, and it would be a stunner if they didn't take him. Marcus Smart from Oklahoma State might be just as good, but he's not going to fill seats.
The Bucks finished dead last in attendance this past year and will be looking for a name who can sell tickets. If the Bucks feel Smart won't do that, they may be reluctant to drop that low.
It is possible, but unlikely, they take Exum second.
The best news for the Bucks is that this is a hard draft to screw up. They can end up wiggin' for Wiggins, imbibing on Embiid or parking on Parker and be fine. They can even look at all those options and decide to "X" 'em out for Exum and still be wet. Whatever they do, they are going to have a player who can generate both excitement and wins in the future.
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