The Milwaukee Bucks Official Draft Preview


After the heartbreaking loss in game six to Toronto, the Bucks began their offseason sooner than they would have liked. Personally, I was very excited at the prospect of a Giannis vs Lebron playoff series. You may have heard Demar Derozan proclaim, “If we had LeBron on our team, too, we would have won.” following Cleveland’s 4-0 sweep. Well, all season long, the statistical anomaly produced by Antetokounmpo (led his team and was top 20 in the league in all 5 major categories) drew comparisons to the sort of thing James has done his entire career. The way Cleveland is playing right now, I’m not sure any team in the East will seriously push them, much less even take a game from them, in a series this year. But Milwaukee may have very well been able to give them a run, especially in the rockin’ BMO Harris Bradley Center. Moreso, I think the experience and the challenge of going head-to-head with the greatest player in the world could have been instrumental in Giannis’ development into, what many believe to be, a similar career arc as LeBron.

Instead, Milwaukee’s season came to an end at the hands of the Raptors, and the organization begins to look forward to next season, and next month’s draft. Milwaukee owns the rights to just their own picks in each of the 2 rounds. Although, draft day trades are very common, especially involving 2nd round picks; so don’t be surprised if the Bucks come away with multiple rookies from this year’s class. Whether through draft night trades, or undrafted free agents, Milwaukee and whoever is tabbed to replace GM John Hammond, now in Orlando, will be expected to look to use the draft process as a major tool to fill out a roster for the newly founded D-League (soon to be G-League) team coming to Oshkosh this fall.

The Bucks began their own pre-draft workouts, in addition to attending the Draft Combine in Chicago. These workouts have ranged in focus from 2nd round/undrafted prospects, to players Milwaukee may look to target with that 17th pick in the 1st round. There has also been a homecooking theme to these workouts, as most have included either a Wisconsin or Marquette product with Nigel Hayes, Bronson Koenig, Katin Reinhardt, and Jajuan Johnson all working out for the Bucks this month.

An interesting prospect and potential target for Milwaukee based on their early workouts is Tidjane Keita. A native of Paris, France, Keita attended Thetford Academy in Quebec for two years. He’s a very raw prospect, who is also very long (6’10” with a 7’3” wingspan), and has shown the potential to shoot from outside, which seemingly fits with Milwaukee’s recent draft strategies., Keita has been recruited as a 2018 college prospect, receiving a scholarship offer from Georgia Tech. However, being born in 1996 and residing outside of the United States, Keita meets the minimum requirements to be draft eligible.

Another player who has caught the Bucks eye early on is Rashawn Thomas, of Texas A&M – Corpus Christi. The 6’8”, 230 pound forward leaves the Islanders as arguably the most accomplished player in school history; a history which includes Milwaukee’s own Khris Middleton. As a senior, Thomas averaged 22.5 points 9.0 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game, and posted a team high 69 blocks. He’s proven to be a versatile player, who can impact the game on both ends of the floor – much like Middleton. I could see Thomas snagging a spot on that Oshkosh G-League team, and possibly competing with Milwaukee’s Summer League squads as well.

Lack of depth hurt the Bucks in the playoffs, and they will likely use their first round pick to address that need. In what should be a first round rich with potential role-players, Milwaukee has options available to them at pick 17. In this article, I’ll take a closer look at a trio of wings that figure to still be on the board in the middle of the first round – O.G. Anunoby, Justin Jackson, and Terrance Ferguson.

Ferguson is a perplexing prospect, and may fall a bit further in the draft than a player with his potential typically would. After opting to play this year overseas instead of being a likely one-and-done at Arizona, Ferguson signed with the Adelaide 36ers of the Australian NBL. In high school, Terrance was a 5-star recruit and a highlight reel dunker who showed flashes of a 3-point stroke that had scouts drooling. The adjustment, however, from playing prep ball in the states to playing professionally overseas is very challenging, and comes with a learning curve that can make it difficult to adequately display your skill set – as fellow Texas-native Emmanuel Mudiay, and former Buck draft pick Brandon Jennings can both attest to. I currently have Ferguson projected in the back end of the lottery, possibly to Charlotte; but lack of production this season may cause him to slip to the middle of the first round, and he could be a steal for the Bucks at 17.

In contrast with the enigma of Ferguson, Justin Jackson of North Carolina offers scouts an extensive college resumé. A three-year starter, Jackson showed steady improvement each year with the Tar Heels, culminating in his impressive ACC Player of the Year campaign this past season. As a junior, Jackson averaged 18 points 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists for the National Champions. His biggest step forward this year came at the 3-point line, where he shot a respectable 37% on seven attempts per game. His consistent development and improved shooting reminds me of Otto Porter of the Washington Wizards. Like Jackson, Porter spent three years maturing in college before declaring for the draft. This season Otto Porter had a breakout season for the Wizards, averaging 13 points per game and shooting 43% from behind the arc. Justin Jackson’s potential could project similarly to Porter, and he could become a solid role player for whichever team drafts him. Currently, Jackson is forecast somewhere in the back half of the first round and could be a very real target for Milwaukee at 17.

The player that I expect the Bucks to take if available, however, is OG Anunoby from Indiana. The 6’8” small forward could fill a very similar role for the Bucks that we saw Tony Snell excel in during this year’s playoffs. Anunoby was expected to be an All-Conference caliber player for the Hoosiers this year as a sophomore, as well as a potential lottery pick, before injuring his right knee in a game against Penn State and missing the rest of the season. Shooting percentages of 31% from three and 56% from the free throw line leave a lot to be desired, but those came in a fairly small sample size and are not necessarily indicative of what he can still become. Ogugua, who goes by the abbreviated OG, is an excellent athlete and should be ready to compete defensively at the next level, while his offensive game develops.

If you look at a dozen mock drafts, you’ll likely find a dozen different players listed for the Bucks at 17. Truth is, it is still too early to definitively tell which direction Milwaukee will take with their first pick; and mock drafts are generally only accurate through the lottery, after which it becomes somewhat of a guessing game. Like I mentioned earlier, I expect several rookies to find a home with the Bucks this offseason as the front office utilizes the new G-League affiliate to grow and develop young talent. Milwaukee should be in for a busy, and hopefully exciting, summer.

About Preston Dubey

Lifelong basketball fanatic and Bucks' supporter I coach basketball; but I eat, sleep, and breathe the game.

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