Save Our Bucks, Alex Lasry, Mallory Edens, Milwaukee Bucks

Winning Takes Balls! – A recap of Lotto Night and Look Ahead to the #2 Pick


It was a wonderful evening for Bucks fans last night as the team secured the #2 pick in the upcoming draft. While we all would have liked the team to secure the top pick, remember that the alternatives were drafting #3 or #4. With the second pick the Bucks have a number of great options to explore between now and the NBA Draft on June 26th.

Top Six Reasons Why This Was a Great Night:

6. The NBA Draft Lottery will be reformed. We thought the needed reform would come courtesy of the Lakers or Celtics winning the number one overall pick. That said, Cleveland winning in three of four years will cause enough of an outrage to bring about changes. We aren’t fans of the ridiculous wheel idea, but can see an even more weighted lotto or limited lottery coming into play next year.

5. There is no consensus #1 player in this draft so the Bucks aren’t missing out on “Tim Duncan” only to have a huge tier fall-off to “Keith Van Horn”, as happened in 1997. There are multiple great options who are worthy of #1 overall pick and one of those players will be available when the Bucks pick second overall. By the way, did we mention the pressure is now on Cleveland and not Milwaukee? We can sit back and let the Cavs and their fans struggle with this one. Whoever the Bucks draft won’t have the pressure of being #1 overall pick. John Hammond is correct that sometimes being the second player selected is an advantage to your career psychologically.

4. The Celtics and the Lakers each got bumped down a pick, and didn’t move up. Bill Simmons is a great writer, but let’s face it, the Celtics dumped their Hall of Fame players last summer AND their coach last summer specifically to tank for this draft. This comes after they recently appeared in two NBA Finals, winning one title. Contrary to Simmons belief, there was zero Karma for the Celtics to deserve to move up in the lottery. The Lakers?  Let’s just say that for shadenfreude purposes the non-Laker fan segment of the NBA world is excited to see an aging Kobe Bryant try to lead the turnaround with Noah Vonleh and Nick Young at his side.

3. The Bucks are now in their best position in almost a decade to acquire an anchor player. Again to quote John Hammond, they’ve got a shot at a guy who can put the team’s floor at 45-wins when you start training camp. This “wins floor” isn’t guaranteed nor would it happen right away, nonetheless it is possible if the Bucks hit on this pick.

2. The new Bucks’ owners and their families came off fabulously on national TV.  As many tweeted last night, Mallory Edens wins the internet and Alexander Lasry was good enough Karma in the drawing room to bring home pick #2. Enough said. This is a new era.

1. We all finally got to watch the NBA Draft Lottery with a reasonable expectation that the Bucks would secure a top three pick, unlike countless years past where we’d all hope the team would improbably move up from a low lotto seed. You all remember those lottos of years gone by — such as 1992 when you hoped the team would move up to get Shaq, Mourning or Laettner but ended up at #8 and Todd Day. Or 2008 when dreams of Derrick Rose were dancing around, only to be left with Joe “Potsie” Alexander. The lottery last night was finally FUN!  Admit it, as bad as last season was, there was a reward for all of us.

Now Let’s Talk About Those Potential Bucks Draftees

There is a wide ranging group of people who follow and participate in the movement. Some of you are NBA draftniks who can recite advanced statistical metrics of all the top prospects while others of you are casual fans who do not know a whole lot about these potential draftees.

As we explore the Bucks options over the next month, we are going to be focusing on three and one-half primary players for the Bucks to select with their second overall pick. We understand a number of you are fans of Marcus Smart, Julius Randle, Noah Vonleh or Aaron Gordon.  We’d encourage you to write them off your board. Those are all worthy players in the debate for picks 4-8 but they won’t be on the Bucks radar in our opinion despite what some in the front office or media will say over the next month. Now that the Bucks have the second pick, we can cut the field in half.

The Bucks are going to focus on three and one-half players in their draft preparations:

Dante Exum : He’s the “half” in this equation, because by most accounts he’s fourth on the NBA GM rankings. Given the fact he did not play NCAA basketball and doesn’t have a high profile, he’s likely to be a secondary consideration for the second overall pick unless he absolutely wows the Bucks in a private workout. That said, he’s well enough regarded that you should at least become familiar with him. The most frequent comparison we’ve heard regarding his upside is Penny Hardaway. Exum is a quick, tall and rangy. His only weakness is that we don’t have a season of NCAA competition to benchmark him against.

Joel Embiid: For many of you, Embiid scares you because of the fact he missed the last month of the college season with a back injury. He’s doesn’t necessarily scare the pro scouts though, a number of whom see him as the next great NBA superstar center; in the lineage of Hakeem, Ewing, Duncan and Shaq. He’s clearly worthy of the #1 overall pick and will be in the mix for the Bucks. ESPN Analyst Chad Ford already has him picked to go #2 overall to the Bucks in his latest mock draft that was just released.

For those that do not like him because of possible injury issues, your analog is not Greg Oden. Oden had a serious physical issue of one leg being 1.5 inches longer than the other. Why the NBA community discounted such a serious physical situation that would obviously impact the holistic functioning of his body and more importantly his knees is a mystery in hindsight. By all published accounts, Embiid’s back issue isn’t nearly as serious as Oden’s issue. Additionally, Oden never possessed the offensive skill-set that Embiid demonstrated at Kansas.

That said, the injury concerns are real. If you are worried about Embiid, your best example to cite would be a player like Brad Daugherty or Andrew Bogut. Both players had great skill sets and for a time were impact players. A bad back cut Daugherty’s career short and Bucks fans are all too familiar with Bogut’s various maladies. The other risk you have with Embiid is that he’s going to take some time to develop. He’s only been playing basketball for three years.

Jabari Parker: After the lotto drawing was completed, a number of Bucks fans and media scribes immediately pronounced the Bucks choice as the “leftover” between Parker and Andrew Wiggins, under the assumption that Parker and Wiggins are going #1/#2 in some order. No question Parker is a marketing dream. He’s handsome, articulate and most importantly, he knows how to score the basketball. By all accounts he is a guy who can step in and become a 20-point per game scorer. Plus did we mention he hails from right down the road in Chicago? He’s ready to take the court tomorrow and make electrifying plays.

However, for those of you who feel Parker should be the consensus #1 overall pick or the Bucks clear choice at #2, we’ve got some news for you. Most of the pro scouts involved with the top lotto teams have put Parker a clear third on their list behind Wiggins and Embiid. Why? Because Parker has one severe weakness — he may be a tweener ala Derrick Williams or Antawn Jamison. i.e. a player who is too small to play power forward and too slow to effectively guard small forwards or stretch fours.

Teams that go deep into the playoffs in May and June generally have superstars who can play both ends of the court. Guys who can score 20-30 points and be lock-down defenders or great disruptors on that end of the court. The knock on Parker is that his ceiling may be Carmelo Anthony or Glenn Robinson. That’s a wonderful player and clearly someone we’d like in Milwaukee. That said, we all know that those offense only tweener forwards aren’t the guys who carry you to title contention. The fact that Parker was pulled in the final minutes of the Duke loss to Mercer for his defense somewhat validates the concerns of the scouts.

Andrew Wiggins: One year ago today, he was the consensus #1 overall pick. He has tremendous physical skills, is capable of being a lock-down defender and looks to be a player that can score 25 points in his sleep. But “sleep” is the operative word that also represents his biggest perceived flaw. Some scouts do not think he has the competitive drive and fire to take full advantage of all of his physical skills. Others believe his suspect ball-handling skills will limit his ability to be a true superstar. Due to these perceived weaknesses, in certain quarters he’s viewed as a guy who will be a great #2 option but not an alpha-dog in the NBA.

In Wiggins’ defense, he’s young and he played in a more disciplined system at Kansas that wasn’t designed to showcase his athletic abilities. Some scouts are adamant that once he gets into the NBA, he’ll immediately become a highlight reel player and worthy of all the preseason hype that was accorded him a year ago.  Probably one of his best attributes is that, unlike Parker, Wiggins does appear to the have the physical tools and ability to be a lock-down wing defender in the NBA. Bucks Director of Scouting, Billy McKinney made some comments to that effect last night on WSSP radio. There is going to be a gamble in selecting Wiggins, but not a very big one.

Our Prediction?

Predictions are only fun and worthwhile if you go out on a limb. We realize that over the next month however, this limb may get sawed off on us via the individual workouts, interviews and medical exams that take place with the top prospects. Nonetheless, here it goes:

The Bucks will select Andrew Wiggins from Kansas with the #2 overall pick.

Rationale?  We believe that Joel Embiid’s health concerns will be dispelled as he shares his medical records with the Cavaliers and completes individual workouts for them. Owner Dan Gilbert will want to roll the dice on a potentially dominant big-man to help round out his roster and lure LeBron back to Cleveland.  Whether this brings LeBron back remains to be seen, but we’d view the attraction for LeBron to return to Cleveland as being greater if the Cavs have a great big man to take the beating down low and battle the Roy Hibbert’s of the league.

We’d further add into the equation Bill Simmons comments on Embiid from yesterday:

One more important note: Joel Embiid is going to be the first pick of the 2014 draft. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. These teams are full of it. We’re worried about his back, we’re hearing it’s bad … Hold on, I’m actually going to stand under the bull as he craps on me. It’s Smokescreen Central right now. And enough with the Oden parallels; unless Embiid’s pre-draft MRI reveals a career-threatening back issue (doubtful), NOBODY is passing on a franchise center who could easily be described as “The 7-Foot Serge Ibaka.” Stop it. He’s going first. We’re officially calling tonight’s lottery “Bleed for Embiid.” “

That will leave the Bucks choice between Parker and Wiggins. We predict the Bucks will ultimately select Wiggins on the basis that he has all-world upside and will have the potential to play great defense at the next level ala Paul George. The fact Wiggins is also a high-flying dunker who should be a Milwaukee crowd favorite won’t hurt either.

So there you have it. Our thoughts and prediction the day after the lottery. Agree or flame away — tell us what you think and let’s have some great fun the next month looking forward to the #2 overall draft pick. Milwaukee really can’t go wrong here. Go Bucks!

One thought on “Winning Takes Balls! – A recap of Lotto Night and Look Ahead to the #2 Pick

  1. Pingback: NBA Draft 2014: John Hammond, David Morway and Billy McKinney react to #2 | Interesting Read

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