The Bucks’ Missing Piece
It’s NBA Draft season and for the Milwaukee Bucks, it’s imperative to hit on this year’s first-round pick.
Point guard Brandon Jennings, one of the few first-round picks that have panned out for the Bucks in recent memory, openly told reporters he was “doing [his] homework on big-market teams” as the 2011 season hit its halfway point. With free agency set to hit the budding star in 2014, Milwaukee must be able to put young, skilled players around Jennings to keep him on the lakeshore in the long term.
General Manager John Hammond and Head Coach Scott Skiles are heading into contract seasons and need a playoff season. Furthermore, questions surround the future of the franchise in Milwaukee. Can Herb Kohl keep the team in town? Will there be a new arena? Can the Bucks increase an attendance figure that ranks 26th out of 30 teams in the league?
Bucks fans want exciting drives to the hoop. They want rejections at the rim on defense. They long for non-stop hustle up and down the court. The passion of the team’s “work hard, play hard” motto. Most of all, and simply put, they want to win.
When looking at the Bucks’ roster, it’s hard not to see the Bucks overflowing with youth and athleticism in a strikingly similar mold as the Oklahoma City Thunder. Ekpe Udoh reminds the casual fan of a poor man’s Serge Ibaka defensively, while Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is a shutdown defender comparable to Thabo Sefalosha. There are resemblances of Russell Westbrook in Monta Ellis in terms of pure, natural athleticism, while Brandon Jennings can create plays with his driving ability a la James Harden.
But where is the Bucks’ version of Kevin Durant?
Milwaukee will meet the desires of its fans and fill the void of a lengthy playmaker by taking a chance on the ultra-skilled athletic freak they call PJ3 in Thursday evening’s draft.
Baylor’s Perry Jones III is as tantalizing a prospect as any in the past five years.
For one, his measurables are off the charts. A 6-11, 233-pound sophomore with a 7’1 wingspan and 38.5” vertical jump, PJ3 carries a rare blend of size and athleticism and offers the Bucks a small forward or Stretch 4 option to run the floor in an up-tempo offense that Milwaukee has never seen before.
Though he is far from a finished product – he needs to play with more physicality and work on creating his own shot in isolation-type settings – Jones shows the ability to knock down the mid-range jump shot and swat away the shots of opposing players on the other end of the floor.
The former highly-touted high school talent, Perry averaged 13.5 points and 7.6 rebounds a contest this past season on a very good Baylor squad that reached the Elite 8. There is no reason why a tough-as-nails coach like Skiles cannot maximize the immense potential of a mature PJ3 and utilize him in a rotational role from day one.
So much talk has been made about the Bucks needing to replace Andrew Bogut at the center position, but perhaps I am the only one that does not see this as necessarily true.
PJ3 offers much more star potential than a player like North Carolina’s Tyler Zeller and is a much safer option than the likes of unproven Illinois freshman Meyers Leonard. Furthermore, Udoh and Larry Sanders have been groomed for an athletic center type of role. Though not big-bodied, they can speed up an offense that was often hindered by the lumbering Bogut, and with the help of Jones at forward, there is reason to believe the Bucks could play the “Thunder style” with fast-paced offense and hard-nosed defense.
Jones was quoted as saying that he wants to play in Milwaukee with the backcourt of Jennings and Ellis in his Combine interview. He doesn’t need to play with them merely on video games any longer. Hammond and Skiles can bring in a talent that has so many of the traits and questions that surrounded Durant when he entered the draft. We know who Durant has become.
The second-coming is here. Are the Bucks willing to gamble on greatness with the 12th pick? Stay tuned to ESPN on Thursday night.