Sunday, June 30, 2013

Building The 15 - 2013 Milwaukee Bucks Draft Picks

This is my third year doing a "mock" first round NBA Draft (2011, 2012, and 2013) and my fourth year reviewing the Bucks actual draft (2010, 2011, and 2012).

Usually there are a ton of trades in the first round of the NBA Draft, which makes it really hard to marry pick, player, and team correctly.  True to form, there were a ton of trades in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft.  I nailed the exact draft number and player for only one pick* out of 30 in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft.

Although that seems like I did a horrible job, I correctly predicted 24 out of 30 players** that went in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft.  Of the 6 guys*** that I incorrectly predicted would go in the first round, they all were drafted by the 43rd pick so my prognostication skills are pretty good.

Here is a full breakdown of the two players that the Milwaukee Bucks drafted in the 2013 NBA Draft:

1st Round (15th Overall): Giannis ("Bo" or "The Greek Freak") Antetokounmpo
Position: Small Forward
Age: 18
Birth date: December 16, 1994
Birthplace: Athens, Greece
School: N/A
Class: N/A
Height: 6'9"
Weight: 215 lbs
Reach: N/A
: N/A
Positive Attributes (per ESPN's Chad Ford)
: Versatile point forward, great size/length for his position, and good ball handler & passer for his size
Negative Attributes (per ESPN's Chad Ford): Needs to add strength, needs to improve consistency with his jump shot, and plays against weak competition
Other Possible Picks: Dennis Schroeder (PG, Germany), Sergey Karasev (SG, Russia), and Shane Larkin (PG, Miami)
: N/A

Analysis: Early in the draft process there were two spellings of his last name: Adetokunbo and Antetokounmpo, it seems like everyone has settled on Antetokounmpo.  On ESPN's draft telecast they said his nickname should be Bo.  I prefer The Greek Freak but Bo is easier to type so let's stick with that for this post.

The youngest player in the draft is drawing comparisons to Kevin Durant. Trust me, if Bo turns out to be 75% of Durant, this will be the best pick of Hammond's tenure and possibly the highest ROI of any pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.  Just to inflate already high expectations, Bo has also been compared to Scottie Pippen and Lamar Odom as well because of his potential ability to be a point-forward.

This was a total luxury pick for the Bucks that I fully support.  Early indications are that Bo wants to play in the NBA next season despite only playing in lower divisions in Greece so far and never even traveling outside the country until a few weeks ago when he wowed scouts in Italy.

I wish the Bucks could stash Bo in Europe or the NBADL for a few years to help them bottom out but if Bo wants to play in the NBA I am fine with that decision as long as it doesn't overwhelm him to the point that it stunts his growth on the court.

There is a better chance that Bo flames out as another European prospect that never fulfills the lofty expectations than Bo is selected for an NBA All-Star game.  Even taking that into account, these are the kind of boom-or-bust picks that small market teams have to make because teams like the Bucks can rarely sign marquee free agents but if you draft a stud (think Durant), he might stay with your franchise for the next decade.

If Bo even turns out to be an NBA starter then the Bucks' new favorite number will be 15 since they drafted two quality players at that spot in four years: Larry Sanded in 2010 and Bo in 2013.

2nd Round (43rd Overall): Nate ("Lukno Udriour") Wolters
Position: Point Guard
Age: 22
Birth date: May 15, 1991
Birthplace: St. Cloud, MN
School: South Dakota State
Class: Senior
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 196 lbs
Reach: 8'2"
: 6'4"
Positive Attributes (per ESPN's Chad Ford)
: Crafty point guard who can get to the rim, good shooter with range, high basketball IQ, excellent ball handler, and sees the floor well/gets teammates involved
Negative Attributes (per ESPN's Chad Ford): Lacks lateral quickness and explosiveness and can struggle creating his own shot against athletic defenders
Other Possible Picks: Marko Todorovic (SF, Serbia), Erick Green (PG, Virginia Tech), and Lorenzo Brown (PG, N.C. State)
: @NateWolters

Analysis: The Bucks actually drafted Ricardo Ledo (PG, Providence) with the 43rd pick.  I signed off on the Bucks drafting Ledo in the first round so I thought it was a steal that they got him in the second round.  Instead of keeping Ledo, the Bucks traded for Wolters who was actually drafted 38th overall by the Washington Wizards but was traded to the Philadelphia 76ers before being ending up with the Bucks.  To get Wolters the Bucks gave up Ledo and Houston's second round pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, which they acquired last year as a part of the Jon Brockman, Jon Leuer, and Shaun Livingston for Samuel Dalembert deal.

Since 1996-97 a player has averaged 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists only eight times over an entire season. Amazingly Wolters accomplished that feat twice but that comes with the caveat that Wolters played in the Summit League as opposed to the Big "Ten" or the Big East.

Different advanced metrics that use collegiate statistics to project NBA success had Wolters as being worthy of a Top 10 pick so getting him in the second round seems like a steal.  ESPN's Kevin Pelton uses advance stats to project future production.  Since Bo is not able to be projected in Pelton's model, just based on drafting Wolters, Pelton found that the Bucks had the 5th best draft in terms of adding talent given their draft position (ESPN Insider subscription required).

Clearly Wolters is a safer pick than Ledo, I am just bummed that the Bucks gave up Houston's second round pick in next year's draft because the Bucks need to start hoarding draft picks since that is one of the only ways they can get players to come to Milwaukee.  Either way, it will be interesting to see if Wolters or Ledo has a better NBA career.

Finally in terms of NBA comparisons there are a number of Jimmer Fredette comps being made about Wolters but I have a different comparison.  For those of you that don't understand the Lukno Udriour nickname above, Wolters reminds me of a nice blend of Luke Ridnour and Beno Udrih.  Trust me, that is meant as a compliment because best cases scenario Wolters turns into an NBA starter but worst case scenario he looks like a backup that will have a long NBA career.

The Bucks are in desperate need of a spark for the franchise.  Besides going to the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001, the Bucks have not won a playoff series since 1989.  The last few years the Bucks hung around as a borderline playoff team but only made the playoffs two of the last seven seasons.  Despite my disappointment with giving up a second round pick in the 2014 NBA Draft as a part of the Ledo/Wolters trade, I like that the Bucks swung for the fences in the first round drafting Bo and added a proven commodity in the second round drafting Wolters.

I really thought ten years down the road we would look back at the 2012 NBA Draft for the Bucks as one of the best in franchise history.  Just a year later, the Bucks already traded shooting guard Jodie Meeks, their second round pick in that draft, so it is up to power forward John Henson to fulfill that promise.  I don't want to jinx the 2013 NBA Draft for the Bucks but I feel even better about this draft than I did about last year's draft so may be the Bucks finally got the spark the franchise desperate needs.

* Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG, Georgia) went 8th to the Detroit Pistons.

** = I missed on Mason Plumlee (PF, Duke) went 22nd to the Nets, Solomon Hill (SF, Arizona) went 23rd to the Pacers, Andre Roberson (SF, Colorado) went 26th to the T-Wolves, Livio Jean-Charles (PF, France) went 28th to the Spurs, Archie Goodwin (SG, Kentucky) went 29th to the Thunder, and Nemanja Nedovic (SG, Serbia) went 30th the Suns.

*** = Glen Rice Jr. (SF, Michigan) predicted 18th went 35th, Tony Mitchell (SF, North Texas) predicted 20th went 37th, Jamaal Franklin (SG, San Diego State) predicted 22nd went 41st, Allen Crabbe (SG, California) predicted 23rd went 31st, Ricardo Ledo (SG, Providence) predicted 29th went 43rd, and Alex Abrines (SG, Spain) predicted 30th went 32nd.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Building The 15 - 2013 First Round NBA Mock Draft

Much like I said the last two years (2011 and 2012) in my first round mock draft of the NBA Draft, undoubtedly there will be a ton of trades deeming this "mock" draft essentially useless, but I want to get on record what I think each general manager should do with each pick if they kept it:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers - Victor Oladipo (SG, 6'4", 213 lbs, Indiana, 21 years old) - My unabashed draft crush will be one of the best defensive shooting guards in the NBA as a rookie.  If Oladipo takes his offensive game to the next level in the NBA then the Cavs will rival the Golden State Warriors for the most potent back court in the NBA.

2. Orlando Magic - Otto Porter (SF, 6'9", 198 lbs, Georgetown, 20 years old) - Despite already having small forward Tobias Harris on the roster thanks to a lopsided trade with the Bucks, Porter could be the best player in the draft so talent trumps need.

3. Washington Wizards - Anthony Bennett (PF, 6'8", 240 lbs, UNLV, 20 years old) - The potential second coming of Larry Johnson has weight and injury issues, which gives me some reservations.

4. Charlotte Bobcats - Nerlens Noel (C, 7'0". 206 lbs, Kentucky 19 years old) - Will most likely go first overall despite currently rehabbing a torn ACL because of the lack of a surefire franchise player in this draft.  If Noel can add some weight/muscle, worst case I see him as legitimate defensive force in the mold of Ben Wallace.

5. Phoenix Suns - Michael Carter-Williams (PG, 6'6", 184 lbs, Syracuse, 21 years old) - Height outweighs his crude jump shot because he is done growing but can definitely improve offensively.

6. New Orleans Pelicans - C.J. McCollum (PG, 6'3", 197 lbs, Lehigh, 21 years old) - According to almost every talent evaluator, they found McCollum to be one of the most engaging players throughout the evaluation process but make no mistake about it, without Damien Lillard coming from a small school and still winning rookie of the year last season, there is no way that McCollum would have cracked the Top 6 in this draft.

7. Sacramento Kings - Alex Len (C, 7'1", 225 lbs, Maryland, 20 years old) - Injuries always worry me, especially with centers (think Andrew Bogut, Andrew Bynum, and Greg Oden).  Despite having a new ownership group, it will take a few years to scrub the Maloof stink off the franchise, which makes this boom-or-bust pick a little risky.

8. Detroit Pistons - Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (SG, 6'6", 204 lbs, Georgia, 20 years old) - Possesses one of the best offensive skill sets in the country.  Even if you play in the SEC, when your team goes 15-17 it is hard to get national recognition even if you, which is why KCP is not getting Top 5 buzz.

9. Minnesota Timberwolves - Cody Zeller (PF, 7'0", 230 lbs, Indiana, 20 years old) - Despite not being a huge Zeller fan, pairing him with Ricky Rubio is the perfect match that serves as Kevin Love insurance. There was a rumor that the Cavs offered the first pick in the draft, Dion Waiters, and Tristan Thompson for Kevin Love.  I normally do not support trading lottery tickets for one of the 20 best players in the NBA but I would make an exception here because Love is injury prone and will most likely leave via free agency over the next few years.  Proactively moving Love would give the T-Wolves Oladipo, Waiters, and Thompson to pair with Rubio and Pekovic, which would make them a "must watch" on NBA League Pass.

10. Portland Trail Blazers - Ben McLemore (SG, 6'5", 189 lbs, Kansas, 20 years old) - Probably five spots lower than McLemore will actually go in the draft but his passive play gives me reservation about how successful he will be in the NBA even though he has the best chance to be an All-Star in the entire draft.

11. Philadelphia 76ers - Steven Adams (C, 7'0", 255 lbs, Pittsburgh, 19 years old) - Taking a center in the first round allows the new management of the 76ers to move on from the Andrew Bynum nightmare.

12. Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto) - Trey Burke (PG, 6'1", 187 lbs, Michigan, 20 years old) - There is a chance Burke overcomes his diminutive stature at the next level but I continue to have T.J. Ford nightmares every time I see Burke.  Add in that Burke moved up most draft boards thanks to a productive March and Burke has too many red flags for me to take him in the Top 10.

13. Dallas Mavericks - Sergey Karasev (SG, 6'7", 197 lbs, Russia, 19 years old) - The Mavs are continue to shed salary to keep alive their slim hopes of signing Chris Paul and Dwight Howard this off-season.  Taking a high upside European player like Karasev allows them to add a nice commodity they can stash in Europe to keep their books clean.

14. Utah Jazz - Shane Larkin (PG, 6'0", 171 lbs, Miami, 20 years old) - Much like Burke, I would have taken Larkin five spots higher if he was even a few inches taller but the ghost of T.J. Ford continues to haunt my judgment.

15. Milwaukee Bucks - Dennis Schroeder (PG, 6'2", 165 lbs, Germany, 19 years old) - There is no way Brandon Jennings, J.J. Redick, and Monta Ellis all re-sign with the Bucks.  If none of the trio re-signs with the Buckjs then Schroeder starts in the NBA next year.  If any of them re-sign then the Bucks can stash Schroeder in Europe for a year or two to help him refine his game.

16. Boston Celtics - Shabazz Muhammad (SF, 6'6", 222 lbs, UCLA, 20 years old) - Unfortunately for Celtics fans it is looking more and more like Paul Pierce's days in Boston are numbered, which puts even more pressure on Muhammad.  Going into the season it looked like Muhammad might go 1st overall but attitude, offensive struggles, and the revelation that he lied about his age all hurt his draft stock.

17. Atlanta Hawks - Lucas Nogueira (C, 7'0", 220 lbs, Brazil, 20 years old) - With two consecutive picks, the Hawks will likely stash one of the two players they draft overseas.  Nogueria is a perfect candidate because with a little seasoning he could help form the perfect twin-towers tandem with Al Horford down the road.

18. Atlanta Hawks (from Houston via Brooklyn) - Glen Rice Jr. (SF, 6'6", 211 lbs, NBDL, 22 years old) - After a number of off-the-court issues dogged him a year ago, Rice tore up NBDL the second half of the season to move from a fringe second round pick to a mid-first round pick.  Rice's offensive game is too enticing to pass up at this point in the draft.

19. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Los Angeles) - Giannis Antetokounmpo (SF, 6'9", 215 lbs, Greece, 18 years old) - After drafting Oladipo 1st overal, the Cavs can trot out a pretty impressive starting five of Kyrie Irving (point guard), Oladipo (shooting guard), Waiters (small forward), Thompson (power forward), and Anderson Varejao (center).  Although that means Waiters has to play out of position, adding Antetokounmpo give the Cavs a starting small forward down the road once they decide whether Oladipo or Waiters is their long-term answer at shooting guard.

20. Chicago Bulls - Tony Mitchell
(PF, 6'9", 236 lbs, North Texas, 21 years old) - Admitted to having some maturity issues in college but his physical skill set makes him the perfect player for Tom Thibodeau's system.

21. Utah Jazz (from Golden State via Brooklyn) - Kelly Olynyk
(PF, 7'0", 234 lbs, Gonzaga, 22 years old) - The advanced stats say that Olynyk projects as a perfect stretch power forward in the NBA, which is not really a need given the front court depth the Jazz have (Derrick Favors and Enis Kanter) even if both Paul Milsap and Al Jefferson leave via free agency, but Olynyk feels like steal this late in the draft so talent outweighs positional need.

22. Brooklyn Nets - Jamaal Franklin (SG, 6'5", 191 lbs, San Diego State, 22 years old) - Despite having a ton of money committed to Joe Johnson and Gerald Wallace, with MarShon Brooks on the way out, the Nets could use a versatile wing to come off the bench.

23. Indiana Pacers - Allen Crabbe (SG, 6'6", 197 lbs, California, 21 years old) - Projects as one of the best offensive threats in the draft but still not sure about his defensive abilities.  If Crabbe performs well defensively, he will be the steal of the draft.

24. New York Knicks - Reggie Bullock (SG, 6'7", 200 lbs, North Carolina, 22 years old) - A late bloomer makes me question whether he can develop into a consist starter at shooting guard but worst case scenario projects as a three-point assassin off the bench.

25. Los Angeles Clippers - Tim Hardaway Jr. (SG, 6'6", 199 lbs, Michigan, 21 years old) - Reminds me of Monta Ellis given the fact that he is a high volume shooter so learning under Jamal Crawford's wing will help Hardaway fulfill his destiny of becoming Jamonta Elford 2.0.

26. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis via Houston) - Tony Snell
(SF, 6'7", 198 lbs, New Mexico, 21 years old) - With his long arms he looks like a versatile NBA defender but unfortunately he didn't put up big deal or block numbers in college so I am not sure he can to it in the NBA. This late in the first round, taking a gamble on the body is worth the risk.

27. Denver Nuggets - Gorgui Dieng (C, 6'11", 203 lbs, Louisville, 23 years old) - College experience used to be an asset but now teams perceive that as lost NBA seasons, which bumps the oldest player in the draft to the end of the first round.

28. San Antonio Spurs - Rudy Gobert (C, 7'2", 238 lbs, France, 20 years old) - With Tiago Splitter a restricted free agent in his late 20's, I see the Spurs tendering Splitter but adding his replace a few years down the road in Gobert.

29. Oklahoma City Thunder - Ricardo Ledo
(SG, 6'6", 197 lbs, Providence, 20 years old) - Too bad Ledo had so many issues off the court because heading into college, Ledo looked like a surefire lottery pick thanks to his impressive offensive abilities.

30. Phoenix Suns (from Miami via L.A. and Cleveland) - Alex Abrines
(SG, 6'5", 195 lbs, Spain, 20 years old) - I would be shocked if Mason Plumlee was not drafted in the first round, which would be a safer pick here but I would rather swing for the fences taking a high upside guy like Abrines at the end of the first round instead of legging out a bunt single with Plumlee.

Today is Cheesehead Chick and my fourth wedding anniversary, which means I will be watching the 2013 NBA Draft on delay tonight so check back later tonight on Twitter @CheeseheadSN for my quick thoughts on what the Milwaukee Bucks do and Sunday for my traditional Sunday Funday post recapping the Bucks' 2013 NBA Draft.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Building The 15 - 2013 NBA Draft First Round Preview for John Hammond

Each of the last two season Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond pulled off a trade on the eve of the draft.  In 2011, Hammond made a three-team trade giving up Corey Maggette, John Salmons, and the 10th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft in exchange for Stephen Jackson, Livingston, and the 19th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft.  The actual players exchanged in that trade are not worth discussing because it amounted to a few franchises re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  The huge bummer of that trade that is worth discussing is that by moving down from 10th to 19th, the Bucks missed out on the chance to draft Klay Thompson and Kawhi Leonard.  There is no guarantee that Hammond would have taken Thompson or Leonard, but the fact that the Bucks missed out on the chance to draft two franchise players casts a pall over the trade.

In 2012, Hammond traded Jon Brockman, Jon Leuer, Shaun Livingston, and the 12th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft to the Houston Rockets for Samuel Dalembert, the 14th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, a future second round pick, and cash considerations.  The Bucks drafted John Henson with the 14th pick.  Although I am disappointed the Bucks gave up Leuer, the disappointment is mitigated by the fact that the Bucks should have John Henson and Larry Sanders in the fold for the next decade.  By trading back from 12 to 14 the only players the Bucks missed out on drafting were Jeremy Lamb and Kendall Marshall.  I would much rather have Henson than Lamb or Marshall so this is no where close to missing out on Thompson and Leonard like they did last year.

Will Hammond make a trade for the third year in a row on the eve of the draft?  With only eight players currently under contract for next season (Gustavo Ayon, Drew Gooden, John Henson, Ersan Ilyasova, Luc Mbah a Moute, Larry Sanders, Ish Smith, Ekpe Udoh), the Bucks do not have a ton of trade chips.

There awere reports that the Boston Celtics are looking for a first round pick for Paul Pierce.  The two teams that showed interest are the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Milwaukee Bucks.  Even if the Bucks were able to dump Drew Gooden's contract, the trade makes no sense for the Bucks because Pierce is owed $15 million next season while Gooden is set to earn $6.7 million each of the next two seasons so they are not even saving money in the trade.

Normally I advocate taking the best player available but the top three back court players from last season (Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, and J.J. Redick) could all be playing elsewhere next season so the Bucks have to consider drafting for need instead of taking the best player available.

As I said in my second round preview for the Milwaukee Bucks, the NBA Draft is covered so well that I am pretty confident the first 11 players that will come off the board in the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft, in some order, are: Nerlens Noel, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter, Anthony Bennett, Alex Len, Ben McLemore, Michael Carter-Williams, Trey Burke, C.J. McCollum, Cody Zeller, and Kantavious Caldwell-Pope.

Take that with a grain of salt though because last year in my preview of the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft for the Milwaukee Bucks I thought I had a good feel for the nine guys that would NOT be available when the Bucks were on the clock with the 14th pick.  Much to my pleasant surprise, John Henson (one of those nine guys) fell to 14 so the Bucks smartly drafted Henson.

I am fine with the Bucks drafting any of the 11 players mentioned above.  I have a particularly strong affinity for Oladipo, Porter, Carter-Williams, McCollum, and Caldwell-Pope.  Assuming they are all drafted, here are the 10 guys (most to least) that Hammond and Company should strongly consider if they are available with the 15th pick:

Dennis Schroeder (PG, 6'2", 165 lbs, Germany, 19 years old) - Last time the Bucks drafted a point guard that played in Europe (Brandon Jennings in 2009) it worked out pretty well.  Ultimately I think Jennings is a more of a slashing shooting guard than a point guard but I still think he is salvageable as the third-best player on a championship team, which means the Bucks should not give Jennings a max-contract this off-season. If the Bucks draft Schroeder, it would allow Jennings to shift over to shooting guard.

Sergey Karasev (SG, 6'7", 197 lbs, Russia, 19 years old) - Hard to see Karasev playing in the NBA next season but his length and shooting ability makes him a potential franchise player for the next decade.

Giannis Antetokoumpo (SF, 6'9", 215 lbs, Greece, 18 years old) - My affinity for overseas players is partly because it gives the Bucks the best chance to bottom out while allowing assets to improve overseas.  Antetokoumpo has the highest ceiling and lowest floor of the three overseas players just discussed.

Shane Larkin (PG, 6'0", 171 lbs, Miami, 20 years old) - Apparently Bucks management were blown away with Larkin's workout.  I like everything about Larkin besides his height and let's not forget that a smallish guard (T.J. Ford) had a great workout before the 2003 NBA Draft for the Bucks.  On the plus side, I've heard some people compare Larkin to Kemba Walker so now we know his ceiling (Walker) and floor (Ford).

Allen Crabbe (SG, 6'6", 197 lbs, California, 21 years old) - A few pundits compared Crabbe to Klay Thompson.  That seems rather lofty but having a tall shooting guard that can actually defend for the first time since Ray Allen left town would be nice. 

Glen Rice Jr. (SF, 6'6", 211 lbs, NBDL, 22 years old) - Offensive production has a way of helping people brush over off-the-court issues.  There is no doubt that Rice has the chance to be a scoring machine in the NBA, the question is whether his off-the-court issues will get in the way. 

Reggie Bullock (SG, 6'7", 200 lbs, North Carolina, 22 years old) - It is easier to evaluate players when they have one elite skill.  Bullock is an elite shooter, which is enough for me to justify taking him 15th overall.

Shabazz Muhammad (SF, 6'6", 222 lbs, UCLA, 20 years old) - The Harrison Barnes comparisons seem way too convenient.  I wouldn't touch Muhammad in the lottery but outside the lottery, the chances of drafting a franchise player are slim, so why not swing for the fences.

Jamaal Franklin (SG, 6'5", 191 lbs, San Diego State, 22 years old) - No question Franklin is a great defender but unless he can improve his long-range shooting, I see him being a poor man's Tony Allen.

Ricardo Ledo (SG, 6'6", 197 lbs, Providence, 20 years old) - Some speculate that Ledo was a lock to go in the lottery before off the court issues precluded Ledo from playing at Providence.  Thus drafting Ledo involves taking a bit of a leap of faith but one certainly worth taking to get such a talented, big bodied shooting guard.

I would be shocked if the Bucks passed on any of the aforementioned 21 players unless they decide one of the front court players not discussed (Steven Adams, Lucas Nogueira, Kelly Olynyk, Tony Mitchell, or Mason Plumlee) is too enticing to pass up but with the potential back court turnover I find that highly unlikely.

With how I think the Milwaukee Bucks should approach the 2013 NBA Draft documented, make sure to check back tomorrow to read my "what each GM should do" mock draft of the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft.

Building The 15 - 2013 NBA Draft Second Round Preview for John Hammond

Last month I gave Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond my 10 Point Plan for how he should approach the off-season.  So far Hammond has only followed one piece of my advice when he picked up the team's $1.5 million option on center Gustavo Ayon for next season.

Of the nine remaining pieces of advice, Hammond was unable to deliver on two of them.  First, he hired Larry Drew as the next head coach instead of hiring a younger and cheaper defensive-minded coach.  Second, despite offering a two-year, $25 million extension to entice shooting guard Monta Ellis to exercise his $11 million player option for next season, Ellis opted-out of the last year of his contract with the Bucks.  Let me be clear, I wanted the Bucks to have Ellis on an $11 million expiring contract as a trade asset but paying Ellis $36 million over the next three seasons is way too much for a high-volume shooter that is a below average defender.

That leave seven pieces of advice that might or might not be followed.  Ironically my 7th piece of advice in my 10 Point Plan was to read my draft previews so let's start to break down the 2013 NBA Draft for the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Bucks currently hold the 15th and 43rd picks in the draft.  With how well the NBA Draft is covered, you can almost be assured that the following 35 guys (Nerlens Noel, Victor Oladipo, Otto Porter, Anthony Bennett, Alex Len, Ben McLemore, Michael Carter-Williams, Trey Burke, C.J. McCollum, Cody Zeller, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Steven Adams, Sergey Karasev, Lucas Nogueira, Giannis Antetolounmpo, Dennis Schroeder, Shabazz Muhammad, Shane Larkin, Kelly Olynyk, Jamaal Franklin, Tony Mitchell, Mason Plumlee, Reggie Bullock, Glen Rice Jr., Allen Crabbe, Ricardo Ledo, Gorgui Dieng, Tim Hardaway Jr., Isaiah Canaan, Tony Snell, Rudy Gobert, Jeff Withey, Mike Muscala, Alex Abrines, and Pierre Jackson) will no longer be available with the 43rd pick.

Despite the fact that the Bucks have nabbed a few starters in the second round of the draft since 2000 (Michael Redd, Dan Gadzuric, Ersan Ilyasova, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute) the 2nd round is a crap shot so I support the Bucks taking any of those 35 guys in the second round if they are still available.  Here are the 10 guys I like most to least that Hammond and Company should strongly consider if they are available with the 43rd pick:

Andre Roberson (SF, 6'7", 206 lbs, Colorado, 21 years old) - According to a number of advanced metrics (i.e. using college statistics to project success in the NBA), Roberson is one of the best players in the entire draft. 

Nate Wolters (PG, 6'5", 196 lbs, South Dakota State, 22 years old) - Although Wolters does not excel in any particular area, he is above average in almost every facet.  With all due respect to Ish Smith, the only guard currently under contract for the Bucks, Wolters is already a better player than Smith.

Erik Green (PG, 6'3", 178 lbs, Virginia Tech, 22 years old) - My sister-in-law is set to receive her PhD from Virginia Tech next season so I've developed a soft spot in my heart for the university.  Even leaving that bias aside, Green was one of the most potent scorers in college basketball last year, which makes him a great combo guard off the bench next season with the potential to start in a few season.

Archie Goodwin (SG, 6'5", 196 lbs, Kentucky, 18 years old) - Although Goodwin's shot is a work in progress at best, under the tutelage of new Milwaukee Bucks assistant coach Nick Van Exel, I see Goodwin as Jodie Meeks 2.0.

Grant Jerrett (PF, 6'10", 232 lbs, Arizona, 19 years old) - Still not sure why Jerrett entered the draft after his freshman season but the Bucks can treat next season as a red-shirt season for Jarrett to ease his transition to the NBA.

Lorenzo Brown (PG, 6'5", 189 lbs, N.C. State, 22 years old) - Although Brown is technically a point guard, his shot is so deficient right now that teams will concede anything more than a mid-range jumpers until he fixes his shot.  Even if Brown cannot develop a consistent shot in the NBA, worst case scenario his speed and passing ability mean he will be a quality backup point guard in the league for a long time.

Trevor Mbajwe (PF, 6'8", 236 lbs, Minnesota, 24 years old) - I had a well documented man-crush on Kenneth Faried heading into the 2011 NBA Draft so I was immediately sold when some scouts pegged Mbajwe as a poor man's Kenneth Faried.

Seth Curry (SG, 6'3", 179 lbs, Duke, 22 years old) - His dad (Dell) and brother (Stephen) are two of the deadliest long-range shooters in NBA history so we know Seth has the shooting gene.  Some might think 43 is too early since most pundits think he will go undrafted but I am fine with the Bucks taking Curry because of his otherworldly shooting ability.

Phil Pressey (PG, 6'0", 177 lbs, Missouri, 22 years old) - Speaking of bloodlines, Phil's father Paul was one of the best Bucks in the 80's.  Although I have lower expectations for Phil, I still see him contributing next season based on his collegiate production.

Marko Todorovic (SF, 6'11", 245 lbs, Serbia, 21 years old) - Although Todorovic will give the Bucks nothing for a few years, with the proper seasoning in Europe, we might be looking at the second coming of Ersan Illyasova.

With how I think the Bucks should approach the second round of the 2013 NBA Draft documented, make sure to read my thoughts on how the Bucks should approach the first round of the 2013 NBA Draft later today and with my "what each GM should do" mock draft of the first round tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

I Went There - Ryan Braun Faces More PED Related Scrutiny

Ben, Alex, Jason, & Cheesehead Sports Nut (left to right).
I finally got to see the 2013 Milwaukee Brewers play for the first time in-person last night at Miller Park.  My cousin Jason was in from Colorado so I took the train up to Milwaukee from Chicago to attend the game with Mama Cheese, Papa Cheese, and part of the extended Bojar Family (Jason, Jim, Marykay, Alex, Eve, Ben, and Becky).

The Brewers were outmatched most of the night trailing by three runs heading into the bottom of the 8th inning but tied the score thanks in large part to shortstop Jean Segura's triple that plated Rickie Weeks and Norichika Aoki.  The Brewers won in the 10th inning thanks to an RBI single by Yuniesky Betancourt that plated Carlos Gomez.  In a Miller Park first for me, the post-game interview was conducted in Spanish with the interviewer summarizing Betancourt's answers in English before he got the celebratory shaving cream pie-in-the-face.

I took a quick look at my Twitter feed on the ride back to the Parental Cheese Palace and saw the ESPN report that Major League Baseball is going after Ryan Braun and everyone else mentioned in the Biogenesis saga.  Before I read the ESPN report, I planned on writing a post about how it was time for teams to buck conventional baseball wisdom (e.g. using your closer only for a "save" situation), about the recent roster moves by general manager Doug Melvin (traded minor league pitcher Thomas Keeling for infielder Juan Francisco, called up second baseman Scooter Gennett from the minors, sent Mike Fiers back down to the minors, and released infielder Alex Gonzalez), and how despite having the worst record in the National League the Brewers still look a little too talented offensively despite their lack of quality pitching to give up on 2013 already.  All of sudden those topics seems trivial with the specter that Ryan Braun, the face of the franchise, might be suspended for 100 games for the use of performance enhancing drugs.

Although Braun escaped suspension once before when Shyam Das cast the deciding vote to overturn his 50-game suspension for testing positive for PED's, it enraged MLB because they thought Braun's suspension should have been upheld.  Braun's name surfaced on documents along with other high profile MLB players suspected of using PED's earlier this year.  According to Braun, his legal team retained Biogenesis owner Tony Bosch's "consulting services" as a part of appealing his positive test results for the use of PED's.  That excuse seems flimsy at best but is probably the best possible spin his public relations team could muster.  This was just the in that MLB wanted to make an example of Braun and the other MLB players associated with the Biogenesis documents.

Even if MLB suspends Braun and others MLB player associated with Biogenesis, they will always have stink of PED's hanging over their sport so I am not sure that making an example of these guys achieves MLB's goal.  NFL players routinely get suspended for the use of PED's but that does not seem to diminish their accomplishments presumably because football is such a brutal sport.  Reports are that MLB is seeking to suspend anyone associated with Biogenesis documents for 100 games: 50 games for purchasing PED's and 50 games for lying to MLB.

I am not sure what MLB is trying to accomplish with these suspensions.  Keep in mind that MLB filed a lawsuit in March against Bosch and a handful of his Biogenesis business associates for "interfering with baseball contracts" under the legal theory of tortious interference presumably to try to squeeze as much information out of them as possible to mount a case against the players mentioned in the various Biogenesis documents obtained by media outlets.

MLB recently deposed Dr. Daniel Carpman, an anti-aging specialist that has been  identified in some Biogenesis documents.  Unfortunately the details of Dr. Carpman's deposition have not become public.  That means that so far only Bosch and Dr. Carpman are cooperating while other known associates of Bosch such as Carlos Acevedo and Juan Carlos Nunez (a registered MLB agents that apparently put Bosch in touch with a number of the MLB players named in the investigation) have been resistant to cooperate with MLB's investigation of Biogenesis.

I assume that Bosch is going to tell MLB what they want to hear with respect to the use of PED's by the players in question, especially because MLB has agreed to cover Bosch's legal fees if the government brings a case against Bosch.  That is obviously huge for Bosch because he is reportedly broke so getting his future legal bills covered might be reason enough to cooperate with MLB.  Even if Bosch provides documentation (e.g. canceled checks, text messages, FedEx shipment information, etc.), I would hope that MLB gets more authentication of the documents than just Bosch's word before they start suspending players.

This is not the first time that baseball used shady individuals to take down some of the biggest names in the sport.  In the Pete Rose gambling investigation they essentially traded the testimony of felon Ron Peters for a letter to a judge requesting leniency for Peters' punishment.  In the Roger Clemens PED investigation they relied on Brian McNamee and helped broker a deal with the government to get McNamee immunity from federal prosecution.

The biggest problem for Braun with the most recent revelations is that players can be suspended under the Joint Drug Agreement without ever actually testing positive for PED's.  MLB just needs to show the purchase, receipt, or use of performance enhancing drugs to obtain a suspension.  That said, to suspend Braun based on the flimsy documents and testimony of Bosch seems asinine but you never know given how salty they were about Braun pulling the Reverse Al Capone.

The outcome of this investigation will have huge financial ramifications on the Brewers and Braun because after this season the Brewers have Braun under contract for at least seven (possibly eight) more years for at least $121 million and possibly $132 million ($12 million in 2014, $14 million in 2015, $19 million in 2016, $19 million in 2017, $19 million in 2018, $18 million in 2019, $16 million in 2020, and $15 million mutual option with a $4 million buyout in 2021).  If Braun is suspended because of his association with Bosch and Biogenesis, as crazy as it sounds, the Brewers might have to look into voiding Braun's contract or trading him for pennies on the dollar because any of his accomplishments will come with a huge asterisk.