|The Milwaukee Bucks and net GM: James Donaldson pick 9th. They select Robert Traylor, PF, 6-9, Michigan.|
I. Team Report
The Milwalkee Bucks went through yet another disappointing season in '97-'98. What set this past season apart from other seasons is that for the first time in a while, the Bucks finally had the talent to compete for a playoff spot. At least on paper.
The Bucks were much more talented than their record would indicate. This team was decimated by injuries much of the season, which ended up exposing the Bucks greatest weakness; a weak bench.
When the season began, the Bucks had the making of a very potent starting lineup; Glen Robinson (23.4 ppg), Ray Allen (19.5 ppg, 4.3 apg), Terrell Brandon (16.8 ppg, 7.7 apg), Tyrone Hill (10 ppg, 10.7 rpg), and Earvin Johnson (8 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2 bpg). This lineup is about as balanced as you'll find anywhere on the league, with an impressive combination of perimiter shooting, passing, rebounding and defense. The problem was that rarely did this starting 5 actually get to play together, as key injuries to Brandon (32 games), Robinson (26 games), Hill (25 games), and backup Andrew Lang (25 games) crippled much of their offense. Adding to the problem was that off-season pickup Earvin Johnson was somewhat of a dissappointment, averaging only 8.5 rpg, down over 2 rebounds per game over his average the year before with Denver. With Johnson's struggles and Hill and Lang's injuries, the Bucks lacked a consistent interior presence. Undersized Armon Gilliam helped (11.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg) but he simply was not enough.
Losing these key players forced Ford to go with such unspectacular starters as Elliot Perry (7.3 ppg, 2.8 apg), Micheal Curry (6.6 ppg), Ricky Pierce (3.9 ppg), rookie Jerald Honeycutt (6.4ppg) Jamie Feick and Gilliam. With that kind of dropoff of talent, it's not hard to understand why the Bucks didn't win more, even though their 36 wins was a 7 year high.
II. Draft History
The Bucks have 2 picks this year; the 9th and the 19th. The 9th is their own pick, and the 19th is part of the Bucks deal to acquire Elliot Perry from Phoenix.
This will certainly be an important summer for the Bucks development. They could either become a contender or a doormat in a hurry, and it all starts with making the right decisions on draft day.
On the free agent front, the Bucks have only GRicky Pierce and F/C Jamie Feick as free agents. Pierce has likely played his last game as a Buck, but it's likely that Feick will be asked back, as he showed some feistiness in the latter stages of the season. The Bucks have no significant salary cap space available, as Robinson and Hill's contact, along with Brandon's $7 million balloon payment this year, will eat up most of their cap space. Therefore, their free agent priorities this summer include signing Brandon and Allen to contract extensions. Brandon has indicated he will test free agency next summer rather than signing an extension, so a trade is possible as well. Tyrone Hill signed a long-term deal this season, but has an escape clause next summer, and has stated he will exercise it if the Bucks do not sign Brandon to a contract this summer, which may turn the heat up a bit.
With the 9th selection in the '98 NBA draft, the Milwalkee bucks select Robert Traylor from Michigan.
Traylor won't be a center in the NBA, but is a very tough competitor in the low post and will make the Bucks much more versatile.
Landing Traylor at #9 is a coup. Most experts felt that he would go 8th to Philidelphia. Traylor is not an NBA center, but is immovable in the low post and has a great touch near the basket. He will give the Bucks depth off the bench, as he'd likely start the season as a 6th man, but would get lots of minutes subbing in for Tyrone Hill, or when Johnson is out and Hill shifts over to play the 5. If they play a team without a dominant center, than he could likely fill the middle as well.
Will They Take
With Curry and Elliot as capable backups but not starters, the backsourt is not as pressing a need as the frontcourt. Milwalkee's lack of a scoring low-post presence hurt their record last year, and that point is not lost on GMBob Weinhauer. He has stated that with 2 picks in the draft, they will have the luxury of being able to fill a need (a big man) with the 9th pick, and then go after the best athlete/talent available at pick #19. Let's look at the #9 pick first.
Fortunately for Milwalkee, there are a number of players who will likely be able to fill their need for a big man. Nazr Mohammed, Micheal Doleac, Keon Clark, Dirk Nowitzki and Robert (Tractor) Traylor would all be possibilities at the 9th pick, although Traylor has been impressive in workouts and may be gone by #9 and Nowitkzi is hot on some teams lists as well.
Many feel that Weinhauer's first choice would be to package both picks to move up in the draft, but considering there is a noticeable dropoff in talent after pick 7-8, the interest may be low. Assuming they keep both picks, they would love to get Traylor, Nowitzki or Mohammed.
The 19th pick will be a little more fun and less nerve -wracking than the 9th for the Bucks. Weinhauer is planning to have approximately 30 prospects in for workouts, and most will be to audition for this pick rather than their top one. Like mentioned earlier, because their starting rotation is pretty solid and their top pick will be used to fill their biggest need, the Bucks will simply go after the best athlete available here. Several players on their roster are heading into the final year of their contract (including Brandon, Allen, and Hill), so Milwalkee needs to keep an eye on the future. No player taken with this pick will be expected OR needed to contribute right away, but can be brought along slowly and given time to develop.
I think the Bucks would like to add to their backcourt depth with this pick, and there are several players who could qualify. Toby Bailey, Micheal Dickerson, and Cory Benjamin are the most common names being bandied about, but another who may shoot up the prospects list is Bryce Drew. Displaying skills suitable to both the point guard and shooting guard spots, Drew impressed enough scouts in Chicago last week to be considered a 1st rounder, and demand for him may increase.
|Craig Simpson - Usenet Draft Commissioner|