Friday, June 26, 2015

Building The 15 - 2015 Milwaukee Bucks Draft Pick

This was my fifth year doing a "mock" first round NBA Draft (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015) and my sixth year reviewing Milwaukee Bucks general manger John Hammond's performance in the actual draft (2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014).

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 2015 NBA Draft.  I only nailed players and team for two out of 30 in the first round of the 2015 NBA Draft: Karl-Anthony Towns first overall to the Minnesota Timberwolves and Jerian Grant (PG/SG, Notre Dame) 19th over all the Washington Wizards.  The Wizards ultimately traded Grant, which just illustrates my point above about how hard it is to marry pick, player, and team correctly.

Although that seems like I did a horrible job, I correctly "predicted" 26 out of 30 players* that went in the first round of the draft.  I put "predicted" in quotes because remember that my mock first round draft is what I would do if I was each team's general manager and had to make each pick without making a trade.  Of the four other guys** that I thought should go in the first round that were NOT taken in the first round, all all of them were drafted by the 36th pick.  That means I am mostly in agreement with current NBA decision makers about what guys should have been drafted by the early part of the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft.  That and the draft is covered so well that it is becoming hard to identify true diamonds in the rough.

I only have to breakdown one pick because Hammond made the worst trade of his tenure, which is really saying something since he made a number of questionable moves during his tenure.  I will give you more detailed thoughts on the trade once I cover the player that Hammond actually drafted in the 2015 NBA Draft.  With out further adu, are my thoughts on the one player that Hammond actually drafted that will be on The 15 next season:

1st Round (17th Overall): Rashad ("Greg") Vaughn
Position: Shooting Guard
Age: 18
Birth date: August 16, 1996
Birthplace: Golden Valley, MN
School: UNLV
Class: Freshman
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 199 lbs
Reach: 8'5"
: 6'6"
Positive Attributes (per ESPN's Chad Ford)
: Strong/athletic wing, potential scoring machine, already possess a NBA body, attacks the basket, and solid perimeter shooter
Negative Attributes (per ESPN's Chad Ford): Lacks elite length, inconsistent from deep, and not particularly efficient scorer
Other Possible Picks: Sam Dekker (SF, Wisconsin), Bobby Portis (PF, Arkansas), Jerian Grant (PG/SG, Notre Dame), or Delon Wright (PG/SG, Utah)
Twitter: @ShowtimeMr1
Analysis: This feels like a domestic Greek Freak-esque pick by Hammond, which is exactly what he needs to do with draft picks that he actually holds onto instead of foolishly trading them away.  There is no doubt that there are a couple other guys that were available when the Bucks were on the clock that were either more NBA ready (Portis, Grant, or Wright) or would appease the Bucks fans base in the short-term (Dekker) but much like Hammond did in 2013, he swung for the fences.

In 2013 Hammond could have taken more of a sure thing (Tony Snell or Mason Plumlee) but he rolled the dice on the youngest player in the 2013 NBA Draft and got The Greek Freak.  After just two seasons The Greek Freak looks like a franchise cornerstone and future All-Star.  Trust me, I am under no delusions that Vaughn will be as good as The Greek Freak, I just draw the comparison because Vaughn is one of the youngest players in the 2015 NBA Draft much like The Greek Freak was in 2013.  Vaughn was the 19th highest rated recruit in 2014 out of high school and lived up to that hype at UNLV averaging 17.8 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game over 23 games before a knee injury ended his freshman season.

Vaughn was very impressive in his pre-draft workouts, which helped him show NBA teams that his knee is fully healed.  While shooting 38% from three and 69% from the free throw line his freshman year in college is NOT great, I oddly only see those numbers improving in the NBA given that Vaughn will be the 3rd or 4th shooting option on the floor for the Bucks the next couples seasons as opposed to the focal point of the offense like he was at UNLV.

2nd Round (46th Overall): Norman Powell (SG, UCLA)
Other Possible Picks: Dakari Johnson (C, Kentucky), Michael Frazier III (SG, Florida), Alan Williams (PF, UC Santa Barbara), or Christian Wood (PF, UNLV)
Analysis: Despite the fact that Hammond already drafted a shooting guard when he took Vaughn with the 17th pick, I would have been much happier if he just kept Powell and called it a day.  Instead Hammond traded the 46th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft that he used to draft Powell for the Toronto Raptors and a 2017 lottery protected first round pick L.A. Clipper pick that the Bucks got in the Jared Dudley trade to the Raptors for backup point guard Greivis Vasquez.  If Hammond traded just the 46th pick for Vasquez I would have disliked this trade.  The fact that Hammond somehow included a future first round pick makes this trade an absolute heist for the Raptors.

For those unaware of much about Vasquez, he is a 6'6" backup point guard that played for four NBA teams in his five NBA seasons.  I hate this trade for so many reasons that it is going to tough to boil this down to a few coherent sentences without breaking my computer. I get that the Bucks are targeting long players so Vasquez fits the bill in that department but Vasquez is a below average defender so he does NOT even fit into the system that the Bucks are trying to play.  The biggest problem with the trade is that it cost the Bucks two cheap long-term assets for an expensive short-term asset.  Vasquez is only signed through this upcoming season and is owed $6.6 million.

If the Bucks did NOT have any backup-up point guards on The 15 then you might be able to make a case that Vasquez at least fills a need but the Bucks already have Jerryd Bayless, Tyler Ennis, and Jorge Gutierrez on The 15 so that means the Bucks already had three nice backup point guard options.  Vasquez is a career 36% three-point shooter so it is NOT even like they got a deadly long-distance threat.  If the NBA is moving towards having all 3-and-D players, Vasquez is step back NOT forward.

Obviously I would have held onto the two draft picks if I ran the Bucks.  It is way too early to speculate on a specific player that the Bucks will get in the first rounder from the Clippers in the 2017 NBA Draft.  The Clippers traded away their 2015 first rounder to the Boston Celtics to get Doc Rivers as their coach.  The Celtics took R.J. Hunter (PG/SG, Georgia State) with the pick.  There is no guarantee that a player like Hunter will be there that late in the first round of the 2017 NBA Draft but there is no question that Hunter is a more valuable long-term, cost-effective asset than Vasquez.

Turning to the 46th pick. There are a couple of guys that would have fell to the Bucks that would have been very interesting long-term assets according to FiveThirtyEight's Projected Top 50 Players in the 2015 NBA Draft.  Feel free to read the article to get more a flavor for why the Bucks missed out on some quality players that I thought Hammond should have targeted in the second round of the 2015 NBA Draft.  Some of the guys the Bucks could still sign as undrafted free agents (Cliff Alexander, Christian Wood, and Michael Frazier III) if the Bucks clear some spots on The 15 but what really bothers me is that the Bucks missed out on a useful backup center that has an outside chance of blossoming into a starter down the road in Dakari Johnson (C, Kentucky).  Let's leave Karl-Anthony Towns out of this because he went 1st overall to the Timberwolves and FiveThirtyEight projects him as the best player in the draft.  Three other guys from Kentucky were drafted in the lottery (Devin Booker, Willie Cauley-Stein, and Trey Lyles) yet FiveThirtyEight has Johnson projected to be more productive in the NBA than all three of those guys.  Unfortunately Hammond gave away his chance to draft Johnson for an expensive backup point guard in his late 20's.

NBA Free Agency starts in less than a week so make sure to check back ahead of that for my updated look at The 15 as well as my advice for Hammond for how to approach free agency since we know he has foolishly spent money like a drunken sailor in the past so he can use some sound advice.

* = I "missed" on Terry Rozier (PG, Lousiville) went 16th to the Celtics, Jarell Martin (PF, LSU) went 25th to the Grizzlies, Larry Nance Jr. (PF, Wyoming) went 28th to the Lakers, and Chris McCullough (PF, Syracuse) went 29th the Nets.

** = Guillermo Hernangomez (C, Spain) rated 26th but went 35th to the 76ers, Montrezl Harrell (PF, Louisville) rated 27th but went 32nd to the Rockets, Rakeem Christmas (C, Syracuse) rated 29th but went 36th to the Timberwolves, and Anthong Brown (SG/SF, Stanford) rated 30th but went 34th to the Lakers.

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