BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2014

2014 NBA Draft Preview: Milwaukee Bucks


Picks: 2, 31, 36, 48

Needs: EVERYTHING. The 76ers finished with four more wins than Milwaukee. The 76ers!

The Bucks’ top prospect is Giannis Antetokounmpo, but even he’s not good enough to justify taking anyone other than the best player available. Besides, his best position could end up anywhere between point guard and power forward. He could play with anyone.

John Henson is solid, and Brandon Knight is fine. But drafting based on the presence of players like that is how bad teams remain bad.

Take the best player available.

Trade possibilities: If the Cavaliers don’t pounce first, Maybe Milwaukee can trade down with Philadelphia so the 76ers can get Wiggins. If the Bucks prefer Wiggins for themselves, it’s probably not worth it. But if they want someone else, a well-executed bluff could net extra assets.

Otherwise, not much is cooking, though that could always change before draft night.

Predictions: The Bucks have worked or will work out Embiid, Wiggins, Parker and Dante Exum. Milwaukee is clearly doing its homework, analyzing the consensus top three prospects and even glimpsing the intriguing Exum.

If Joel Embiid falls to No. 2, the Bucks would likely take him. They’re not worried about his back, and they don’t fear a project.

If the Cavaliers take him Embiid No. 1, Milwaukee could go with Parker or Wiggins. The Bucks seems to be trending toward Parker, but they needn’t pass on Wiggins just because Wiggins to Philadelphia is such a hot plan. This simple fact gets lost as mock drafts overwhelm this time of year, but Milwaukee has no obligation to help fulfill a narrative lower in the draft.

Exum at No. 2 is a longshot, though a possibility.

The Bucks could trade a second rounder, but they’re probably better off using all three on cheap talent – maybe even drafting and stashing – and rebuilding in earnest. That’s long overdue.

As long as they don’t draft Parker over Wiggins because Parker’s hometown of Chicago is closer to Milwaukee, they’re doing alright.

Byron Scott doesn’t care about exhausting Lakers in preseason

Byron Scott
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The Warriors use wearable technology to track players and have rested them when the data revealed fatigue. Gregg Popovich is holding relatively healthy Spurs out of practice. Heck, Popovich doesn’t even send himself to every preseason games.

Meanwhile, with the Lakers…

Lakers coach Byron Scott, via Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

“I don’t necessarily care about tired legs in preseason,” Scott said. “I think everything that we’ve done thus far will pay off at the end of the day. You’ve got some guys that might have tired legs and [are] a little worn out, but all the running as far as getting into that physical condition that we need to get into, I think in December and January, it will pay off.

“So I’m not necessarily worried about guys having tired legs in preseason. They’ll just have to kind of fight through that fatigue part of it. And I think mentally it gets them a little stronger anyway.”

Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times:

The Lakers coach has a reputation for demanding a lot of running in the preseason. It’s important in his mind because the Lakers will be better conditioned than other teams down the road.

Players, predictably, aren’t as enthused about it.

Bresnahan quotes just two players, Brandon Bass and D’Angelo Russell, and neither expressed much resistance to Scott’s methods. But I trust Bresnahan to read the team’s pulse.

I also think Scott is right: Fighting through fatigue builds mental toughness. But it also makes players tired, and it’s not the only way to instill toughness. The Warriors are tough. The  Spurs are tough. They didn’t have to run their players into the ground to get that way.

Scott loves to project himself as old-school and anti-analytic. Thankfully for the Lakers, his actual methods aren’t as bad as he conveys. For example, he said the Lakers would take an absurdly low 10-15 3-pointers per game last season. In reality, they hoisted nearly 19 per game, 25th in the league. That might not have been enough for that roster, but at least it wasn’t leaps and bounds below the norm.

So, I’m not convinced Scott is pushing the Lakers as hard as he wants everyone to believe. But he’s  clearly giving them a bigger workload than many teams.

If the Lakers are playing relevant games late in the season, this could come back to bite them. On the bright side, they probably won’t have to worry about that problem.

Tony Parker wants to play six more seasons with Spurs

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Tony Parker revealed a plan nearly two years ago to play until he’s 38.

Coming off his worst season since his rookie year, the Spurs point guard is sticking to that goal.

Parker, via Marc J. Spears of Yahoo Sports:

“The Spurs know I want to play until I’m 38,” Parker told Yahoo Sports in a recent phone interview. “That will be 20 seasons for me. That’s my goal. This year is No. 15. And if I’m lucky enough and I’m healthy, hopefully I can play 20 seasons and then I’ll be ready to retire.”

That seems pretty ambitious, no matter how you handle the conflicting math. (Parker is 33. If he plays 20 seasons, he’ll spend most of his final season at age 39 and turn 40 during the playoffs.)

Parker is already showing signs of slippage. Many of his key numbers were down last season, including ESPN’s real-plus minus, where he quietly slipped from 12th to 67th among point guards.

But Gregg Popovich is very liberal with resting his players, and Parker won’t have to carry too much of the load. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili will probably retire before Parker, but the Spurs will still have Kawhi Leonard and LaMarcus Aldridge.

I wouldn’t count on it, but it’s possible Parker lasts that long.