More Bucks forwards: 2011 NBA Draft signs point to the Bucks adding to a crowded power forward situation

The 2011 seasons of Luc Mbah a Moute (“reliable”) and Drew Gooden (very “unreliable”) failed to provide much in the way of writing material (or so I’ve found) so what’s to keep Bucks GM John Hammond from adding another another power forward type to the roster in the draft?

Nothing of course, and that’s what many draft watchers thought Hammond would do even before he said last week that the Bucks No. 10 pick was one of those kinda-sorta “best player available” kinda picks.

In Hammond speak, that means “We don’t know but I’m probably gonna draft an athletic 6-foot-8 guy and hope he can figure out some NBA offense.”

In 2008 that translated to Joe Alexander in the first round and Mbah a Moute in round No. 2.  In 2010, that was Darington Hobson, “the best player available” whom the Bucks had worked out.   In this draft?

Tristan Thompson, 6-8, 225, Canada by way of the University of Texas.

“The Bucks have two terrific building blocks in Andrew Bogut and Brandon Jennings – but after that, it’s mostly question marks. They traded last summer for Corey Maggette and signed John Salmons and Drew Gooden as free agents, and none of them really panned out as expected,” according to ESPN Draft Insider Chad Ford.

“They really could use help at the 2, 3 and 4 positions. I have Thompson here because, of the players on the board, he’s the most likely to be a Scott Skiles-type player. He’s tough, aggressive and just a beast on the offensive boards. His skill level isn’t particularly high on the offensive end yet, but he’s a good fit alongside Bogut on the front line.”

Chad Ford pays very little attention to the Bucks, but that probably doesn’t matter with this draft.  Here’s how the thinking goes:

Everybody in and around the NBA knows the Bucks need backcourt help.  Unfortunately, what little backcourt help there is in the draft will likely be gone by the time the Bucks pick (assuming they don’t improve position in the lottery).

The point guards (Kyrie Irving, Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight) are slated to go in the top five.  Forward Derrick Williams (Arizona) will likely go No. 2.

Bismack Biyombo, the 6-9 phenom from the Congo with 7-7 wing span, won’t survive past Detroit’s No. 7 pick.

Three of the international big men who’ve been on NBA radar for two years (Jan Vesely, Enes Kanter and Jonas Valanciunas, in no particular order) will be gone in the top eight.

The rest of the lottery board:  a group of NCAA forwards plus shooting guard Alec Burks and 6-11 scorer Donatas Motiejunas (Lithuania).

Ford thinks Charlotte at No. 9 will take San Diego State forward Kawhi Leonard.  Others have a feeling that Jordan isn’t looking for another version of Gerald Wallace and will take Motiejunas, a big forward who’s got a scoring arsenal but a disdain for defense and rebounding. In other words, he’s the least like “Crash,” whom Jordan just traded.

Still others think Jordan will like Burks’ game most of all and will take a chance on the guard developing a reliable jump shot, a la Jordan himself.

The questions about these players are the same ones the Bucks will be asking.  Why bother with Motiejunas if he’s disinterested in defense?   After being dead last in shooting and scoring, can the Bucks afford to play a shooting guard (Burks) who can’t extend past midrange?

Who’s better — Leonard or Thompson or Marcus Morris, a classic 6-9 college power forward with three years at Kansas on his resume?  They’ve all got knocks.  Leonard and Thompson have offensive skill work to do.  Morris’ downside is athleticism and short arms, mid-range shooting.

The best answer for the Bucks is that hard-working Leonard fits the Bucks core personality, if for no other reason than he has a nose for winning 50-50 plays that Skiles can’t resist.  But he’s also a fair bet to be off the board by the nine pick, which would leave the Bucks picking between Thompson, Morris, Burks and Motiejunas.

They’ll likely shy away from Kentucky one-and-doner Terrance Jones, who’s not ready for the pros.

“Best player available” would then be Motiejunas — but Thompson becomes the player the coaches want — a 6-8 defender with scoring potential (Mbah a Moute again) who can play small or big forward.

Thompson would join a crowded stable of versatile Bucks power forward players, in keeping with GM Hammond’s modus operandi:  overload the frontcourt while he figures out who’s staying and who’s going.  The path of least resistance then becomes the trade Hammond backed himself into when he signed Gooden — Ilyasova for whatever veteran backcourt help the Bucks can get back.

Ilyasova wants full time NBA power forward minutes (32-35 per game) but  Skiles and Hammond have thus far been unwilling to entrust him with this.  Meanwhile, Ersan’s already considering offers to play in Europe if there’s an NBA lockout.

26 thoughts on “More Bucks forwards: 2011 NBA Draft signs point to the Bucks adding to a crowded power forward situation

  1. Pingback: Farewell John Hammond: The abstract expressionist maze of deals that demolished the original “Fear the Deer” Bucks |

  2. Kevin

    Brooks is rising, and it looks like there are all kinds of choices for a scorer: Burks, Leonard, Klay Thompson. I doubt we grab Benson at 40, Detroit is interested. But that would be the ideal situation to be able to plug both needs. Also, trade rumors on another site which we both have seen. With the lockout threatening free agency, could there be a flurry of activity? Possibly keeping our picks and trading for another. If we take somone like Tristan Thompson or Marcus Morris at 10, we could trade Gooden for a lower pick to get someone like Brooks.

  3. J.D. Mo. Post author

    I was impressed with Ed Davis in the Bucks-Raptors games last season. He doesn’t play like a rookie, and it was kind of a surprise that the Raptors had a big man on their bench who could get after it.

    I think Keith Benson might fit the bill, and he might drop all the way to the No. 40 pick, though I wouldn”t count on that. I’m leaning toward the Bucks swapping picks as part of a trade and drafting Benson or Vucevic, or a scorer like Marshon Brooks.

  4. Kevin

    The more I think about it, we should just go with the best center available at 10. Toronto ended up with Ed Davis with the 13th pick last year. So I’m curious if one of these guys can be as good.

  5. J.D. Mo. Post author

    Oden would be a risk, no doubt about it. But if by chance it paid off, Bucks would be a title contender with the Bogut/Oden frontcourt (kind of like Nellie trading for Dave Cowens just for the glimmer of hope that he would recuperate and put the Bucks over the top).

  6. Kevin

    Oden would have to be a sign and trade, and I wouldn’t take the chance; he makes Yao seem durable. Rudy is a 39% career shooter, I know, fits right in, so I’d look elsewhere. If Shaq would lose 100 pounds, I would consider him.

  7. J.D. Mo. Post author

    Portland wants to move up, ostensibly to draft Alec Burks. The No. 10 pick should be good enough to get them Burks, so how about the Bucks swapping picks for Patty Mills or Rudy, or maybe both, and dumping Dooling on them?

    Gooden isn’t all that trade friendly with Portland, unfortunately, unless the Bucks want to take a chance on Greg Oden, which wouldn’t be a bad idea.

  8. J.D. Mo. Post author

    I would offer Drew Gooden and the No. 10 pick to every team in the League. Somebody would bite, and we could find some help on the wings or a backup center. Problem solved.
    It really won’t take a big name to get us back, just a solid backcourt player who can make shots, a wing who can do the same and a backup center. I wouldn’t even worry about PF – just play Ersan, Luc and Sanders depending on the matchups. Luc of course would still play a lot of forward on Lebron/Pierce/Deng/Carmelo etc.

  9. Kevin

    Weems is restricted, so he also may be tough to get. It really won’t take a big name to get us back, just some good decisions. Memphis could be shopping Rudy Gay. I wonder if we could sell them on Gooden to back up their excellent big men. Maybe even throw in this tenth pick while were at it. Then deal Maggette for a power forward to replace Drew.

  10. J.D. Mo. Post author

    Probably. But if I were Hammond, I’d take this pick and offer it with Gooden to every team in the league, looking for guard help.
    Then I’d go to Turkey and apologize to Ilyasova.

    Maggette, I’m fine with keeping, if only because Skiles should try a little harder to take advantage of his automatic offense.
    Carl Landry will be tough to get.
    But Butler, Weems to shore up the guard and small forward spots, Watson to back Jennings — I can see all of them helping.
    Delfino doesn’t help as much as a lot of Bucks fans seem to believe. Too streaky to be counted on, the least important part of the 2010 core.
    I think Hammond can find a way to dump this draft pick, Gooden, Dooling, Brockman and Delfino if he wanted to.
    I’d be surprised only by the latter, if it happened, but then, Skiles said all sorts of gushing (for him) things about Ridnour in 2009 and 2010 — and Hammond let him go.

  11. Kevin

    I say the Knicks are off limits. And I keep Maggette.
    My free agent preferences:
    Sonny Weems
    Rasual Butler
    Earl Watson
    Carl Landry
    Dan Gadzuric
    Dump if we can:

  12. J.D. Mo. Post author

    Fields is probably off limits but, yoi never know what might happen in the lottery today.

  13. J.D. Mo. Post author

    Jennings would interest a lot of teams. I was thinking NY might be the place, and Hammond could reunite with Billups. It would improve the Bucks immediately, we could send them Maggette, and also take back Bill Walker or Landry Fields. Walker would be a good fit. I think he’s better than Delfino.

  14. Kevin

    The Hawks have no first round pick and are probably going the lose Crawford. If they trade for Bynum, their bench will be worse than Miami’s, as it would have to be Josh or a couple of players. If it’s Josh, Marvin Williams moves to the starting lineup. I just thought Jennings would interest LA, if Hammond has the gumption. Other players could be added to balance salaries.

  15. J.D. Mo. Post author

    Kirk Hinrich then? The Hawks will want Bynum, and I think Bynum is the guy who’s probably outta there. Magic more or less said his team had to figure out “which big man they’re going to keep.” Hannah Storm said, “Gasol or Odom” – and Magic looked at her like she was nuts — “No, Bynum/Gasol.” They’ll keep Pau.

    In any case, they’ve got to do something with their payroll if they want a shot at Chris Paul, though I get the feeling that Chris Paul and Dwight Howard might prefer to team up to beat them rather than the ESPN dream of either player going to LA to help Kobe get #6.

  16. Kevin

    I just came up with that, no sources other than the expected Lakers breakup. LA needs a point guard more than Josh Smith. They might be able to swap Artest with some other team. Just speculating.

  17. J.D. Mo. Post author

    Top 3 would give the Bucks something to work with. I can’t help but view this draft as an eight player deal, with little hope of Kanter, Vesely or Biyombo or one of the three point guards dropping past that point. Moving up just two spots would begin to give Hammond some options. International sources are impressed the most with the fast development of Valanciunas, while American draft watchers have him all over the place in the top eighth. The order of how the first eight players go may change once teams get the opportunity to work these guys out.

    At ten, it’s basically about taking the best baller and not worrying about what position he plays. You don’t take a shooting guard who can’t shoot, so guns like Jimmer or Andrew Goudelocke have to be considered better fits for the Bucks than Burks. And if Motiejunas can create and score at 7-feet tall, just take him.

    Hammond and Billy McKinney went to Europe recently to see Motiejunas, Valanciunas and Vesely play.

    What’s this about a Bynum trade? The Hawks will be dealing this summer and it’s hard to ignore that Josh Smith and Andrew Bynum’s contracts work well in a deal.

  18. Kevin

    If that happens, trades could be made. Jennings and Gooden to LA for Gasol or Bynum and Blake. Dooling for Zaza. LA could use the other for the Howard deal.

  19. Kevin

    That would be the better choice, but they could also take Jimmer to liven up that offense. Too bad they only have one pick. And of course they could still get in the top three.

  20. J.D. Mo. Post author

    More and more, it looks like Michael Jordan and the Bobcats will take Motiejunas if the Cavs don’t take him first. Nobody seems to think that Detroit will leave Biyombo on the board.
    For the Bucks, this means that the chances of Leonard still being on the board might be pretty decent. Faced with a Leonard vs. Thompson decision, the Bucks will likely take Leonard.

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  22. J.D. Mo. Post author

    File Ersan under “employee prefers new employer.” The Bucks need a new GM, Ilyasova needs a new team. Now it’s just a matter of how the latter happens.

  23. Kevin

    Well, we know he’s a goner after next year for sure. Probably would get another expiring deal, but I would hate to get nothing.

  24. J.D. Mo. Post author

    I would take Motiejunas, too, then try to make a good roster move by trading Ersan with Maggette before the July 1 lockout.

    Ersan wants to go back to Turkey NOW, and forego the final year of his Bucks contract. If and when the NBA locks the players out, he would take one of two contract offers he’s already received and play in Turkey, which would force the Bucks to do one of three things:
    1) Block the contract and demand that he not play, which might be difficult if not illegal considering the lockout.
    2) Buy him out his final season, which is not fully guaranteed, and just let him play.
    3) Trade him, which might help them dump Maggette contract or Dooling, etc., and let some other team deal with it.

    He wants more PT than Hammond’s Drew Gooden/Larry Sanders/Mbah a Moute Bucks have for him. He’s also the star of Turkey’s National team and has a long Olympic year ahead of him, more incentive to stay there and work on defending the silver won at 2010 FIBA.

    Best bet for Hammond is to clear this up with a trade before July 1.

  25. Kevin

    Unless Thompson can play the 3, I would go with Montiejunas. It’s disappointing if there are no shooters out there with the tenth pick, but if this guy can score and back up Bogut, we can use him.
    I read that Ersan wants to go back to Turkey when his contract is up, so he could be difficult to move. We also need him if Luc goes. Counting on Gooden and Sanders is scary, even if we can get value for Ersan. Taking Thompson would provide flexibility, but just replacing Luc with him doesn’t really improve the team.

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