And I only had one stipulation.
The Bucks could draft anyone, and I'd be happy…except T.J. Ford.
I remember secretly wishing that Wade would drop to 8, or that the Bucks would make the move to trade up to get him. When Miami grabbed him at #5, I turned my attention to Hinrich. He had destroyed Marquette in the Final Four, after all, and despite the fact that he looked like the world’s largest Keebler Elf, I liked the intensity that he brought to the floor. I knew the Bucks were looking point guard, and I just hoped that the Bulls were not. But when Hinrich’s name was announced at #7, I knew T.J. Ford was ours…and so I placed myself in the fetal position and rocked myself to sleep...
Truth be told, there came a time when I actually had to admit I was wrong about T.J. Ford. Before he got injured, he actually played some pretty impressive point guard for your Milwaukee Bucks. And normally I’m all for a point guard who’s a pass first type player and can even overlook his obvious limitations when it comes to shooting the ball. But here’s the problem: somewhere along the line, T.J. started thinking he was a scoring point guard. Inexplicably, he started heaving up 3 for 12 and 2 for 14 shooting performances. But what I could really never understand about T.J. was why he was so ineffective on defense. I mean, obviously his size is an issue, I get that. Guys are going to post him up. By why didn’t he create more havoc on the ball handler and get himself more steals (which he actually started to do more of with Toronto last year….go figure)? So when the Bucks dealt him for Charlie V, I was all for it. (And truth be told, I still am. I still believe that when all is said an done, this trade will work out for the Bucks.)
Anyhow, here we are in 2007, and the Bucks are in a similar position. It’s a top heavy draft, and there’s no certainty of who is going to fall to them at number 6. According to the "experts" the Bucks are going to draft...
--Jeff Green (if you listen to Chad Ford of ESPN.com)
--Brandan Wright (if you listen to DraftExpress.com)
--Yi Jianlian (if you listen to Gary Parrish of CBSSportsline)
--Joakim Noah (if you listen to Jeff Reynolds of the Sports Exchange)
Which just goes to show, that it's still pretty much any one's guess, and it will be anyone's guess up until the moment the Bucks pick arrives at the podium Thursday night.
Before I reveal my own wish list for the Bucks, I should explain that I believe that...
A. Noah and Yi have made it very clear that they have no interest in playing for the Bucks. So if we draft either guy, you can assume we'd be moving them elsewhere.
B. There are two superstars in this draft. They are going one and two. There are others who will be very solid NBA players and key contributors, but if you're talking about guys that you can build a franchise around--it ends with Durant.
C. The Bucks need to think about ways to improve their defense.
With that in mind, here's my 2007 Bucks Draft Wish List, in inverse order:
5. Al Horford. I mentioned in my last blog my biggest concern: He's Tito's son. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice...He has proven to be a very solid defender, however, and by getting two blocks per game, the Bucks would increase their team total to...well...two blocks per game...
CHANCE OF BEING AROUND AT #6: 12%
4. Brandan Wright. If I was a betting man, this is the guy I'd say Larry is going to take. A project, to be sure, but if anyone has the skills to prove my point B (above) wrong, it's Wright. My biggest fear is that by the time his rookie contract expires, the Bucks have to make a difficult decision on him. Therefore, if he does become a superstar, it happens with team #2, similar to Jermaine O'Neal...and if they decide to pay him the big bucks, well, can you say, "Darius Miles?"
CHANCE OF BEING AROUND AT #6: 60%
3. Mike Conley, Jr. Don't get me wrong, I like Mo and do hope the Bucks resign him. But Conley is everything the Bucks wished that T.J. was...a pass first point guard who needs to work on his shot. The difference is that Conley doesn't feel the need to take a lot of shots, but still has the confidence to take it, if necessary, at crunch time. (All of us Badgers fans certainly remember the runner in the game at Ohio State.) And his pass-first mentality would be perfect for a line-up with Redd, Simmons, Charlie V and Bogut. Plus he knows how to use his speed to his advantage on the defensive side of the ball. It would hurt to lose Mo to the Grizzlies without any compensation, but Conley would take away the sting.
CHANCE OF BEING AROUND AT 6: 20%
2. Corey Brewer. If you read the comments following my last blog, Matt likes Brewer because he's been compared to Pippen, and Eric doesn't think Brewer is the choice because where would Pippen have been without M.J....Look, there's nobody that feels more strongly than I do that Scottie Pippen is one of the most overrated players of all-time,
(As a matter of fact, just off the top of my head, here's 5 guys from my lifetime that I'd have put on the NBA's 50 greatest, before even considering Pippen: Dominique Wilkens, Alex English, Adrian Dantley, Bernard King and Sidney Moncrief. Hell, I'll even show you three Johnsons that I'd put ahead of Pippen: Dennis, Marques and Kevin...)
but if Corey Brewer has a Pippen-like career for the Bucks, I would think they'd be okay with that. And to be honest, I don't compare Brewer to Pippen as much as I'd compare him to Tayshaun Prince. Brewer's an inch shorter than Prince, with far less wing span, but he plays the same hard-nose defense with the same type of athleticism. Tayshaun may never make an all-star game, but where would the Pistons have been the last few years without him? Brewer would step in immediately at the SF, and move Bobby Simmons back to the 6th man role that he was originally signed to fulfill.
CHANCE OF BEING AROUND AT #6: 50%
1. Trade the pick. There are a lot of teams currently itching to scratch their way into the top 10 (especially Phoenix and Seattle). That makes this a serious seller's market, and I think the Bucks should consider selling high. I could sit here and daydream about using the pick as part of a package to bring in one of the rumored available stars (Lewis, Marion, Pierce), but I'd only be setting myself up for disappointment. But if Phoenix were to say offer their two late picks (24 and 29) and next year's one, I'd make the move and take a chance on sleepers at the end of round one...
By the way, here's
TOM'S TOP 5 SLEEPERS...
5. Alondo Tucker, G/SF; Wisconsin. Ok, totally biased, I realize. And I know the knock on Tuck is that he can't shoot. But, you watch, Alondo's going to be taken at the end of the 1st round, end up on a good team (perhaps Phoenix) and contribute off the bench immediately. Say what you want, but this guy has an uncanny ability to score in traffic, and I'm very interested to see what he can do when he's not the focus of the opposition's defense. After a poor showing in the tourney, the rest of the country has no idea how good he can be...
4. Zabian Dowdell, G, Virginia Tech. First off, it's a kick-ass name, so I'd draft him on that alone. I don't think he handles the rock well enough to be a point guard at the next level, but I see him as an undersized 2-guard, with lights-out range. Think Vernon Maxwell, without the scary temper tantrums. He should be around when the Bucks pick near the end of round two.
3. Aaron Afflalo, G, UCLA. Here's another similarity to the 2003 draft, as another UCLA stud will go early in the second round, similar to Kapono. Afflalo doesn't shoot as consistently as Kapono, but he's probably the second best on the ball defender after Brewer, and that should keep him in the league for many years.
2. Herbert Hill, PF, Providence. Needs to bulk up a ton. As a matter of fact, he's so skinny, he makes Brandan Wright look like David Wright. But he was pretty unstoppable at times in the post for Providence, displaying good footwork and a soft touch. If he's around when the Bucks select in round two, it should be a no-brainer.
1. Derrick Byars, SF, Vanderbilt. Take everything you already know about Alondo Tucker and add a better shot and better on the ball defense. Not as big as a sleeper as others on the list because he's projected to go in the late 1st round, but if he ends up in a Bucks uniform, I'm thrilled.
The Bucks certainly have a lot of decisions to make--from signing Mo to waiting to see if they'll have to match any offers on Charlie Bell--and Larry Harris will certainly be under the microscope with every move he makes.
And it all starts Thursday night, where I'm already preparing myself...to assume the fetal position...