Posted Jun 21 2011 7:46AM
Reminder to NBA Draft-room denizens: Sometimes it's better on the big night not to outthink yourselves.
Too much "If this, then that ..." speculation can often confuse things. Projecting what a player might become in five years can stick you with a Kwame Brown or a Darko Milicic today. Deciphering what the teams drafting immediately ahead of yours might do, or guessing at the big-board preferences of those right behind you, while working the phones in frenzied attempts to move up or down ... well, it all can leave an organization sideways.
Sometimes the NBA game boils down to see the ball, shoot the ball. Ask the Dallas Mavericks about that, post-Finals.
No team needs to stick to basics this week more than the Milwaukee Bucks, whose most glaring need on the court in 2010-11 was a reliable shooter of a certain range. (Off the court, Milwaukee needed an endless supply of bubble wrap to protect its injury-prone roster and one or two alpha dogs for its locker room, but those holes likely won't be plugged Thursday.)
The numbers are clear: The Bucks ranked fourth in defensive rating this season, behind Chicago, Boston and Orlando -- teams that won 27, 21 and 17 more games than Milwaukee, respectively, and qualified for the playoffs while the Bucks wound up in the Lottery and with the No. 10 pick in the 2011 Draft.
Coach Scott Skiles and his players were undone by their struggles at the other end of the floor. They were the NBA's worst offensive team, earning that status by scoring fewer points, shooting for a lower percentage and passing for fewer assists than any of the league's other 29 entries. And only Chicago (5.21) made fewer 3-pointers on average than Milwaukee (5.33), a function of the Bucks' reluctance to take them (25th in attempts, 15.96).
The Bucks were 33-13 when they scored 90 points or more, which is a fancy way of saying they had 36 nights -- and went 2-34 -- when they couldn't get beyond 89. They were 12-40 when shooting less than 45 percent. And they had 25 games in which they failed to score 20 points in the first quarter, with a 4-21 mark when that happened.
Combined with the 275 games lost to injuries, it's no wonder Skiles shuffled through starting lineups like a Potawatomi casino dealer, using 23 in all (that's an average of 3.6 games together per unit).
It all points to the Bucks' need for scoring, for shooting, for overall offensive punch. It was an area that supposedly was addressed last summer when Corey Maggette was acquired and John Salmons was re-signed, but Maggette had his least productive season in about nine years, dropping from 19.8 points a game to 12.0 while his free-throw attempts fell from 7.9 to 4.9. Salmons stuck to his half-season tease, full-season disappointment pattern established in Chicago and averaged 14.0 points compared to his 19.9 for Milwaukee down the stretch in 2009-10.
The feeling around the Bucks is that point guard Brandon Jennings needs a new outlet for his assists and the No. 10 pick ought to provide it.
One possibility? Swingman Klay Thompson of Washington State. Thompson, a son of 1978 No. 1 NBA pick Mychal Thompson, is considered to be arguably the best shooter on the board this year. He dazzled scouts in Chicago with his marksmanship and was said to have caught the eye of legend Jerry West, consulting now for Golden State (No. 11). He led the Pac-10 in scoring and ranked 11th in the nation, while hitting about 40 percent of his 3-pointers.
"I think I'd be a perfect fit, playing alongside Brandon, a kid who is great with the ball, a great passer," Thompson said after his workout at Milwaukee's facility last week. "I don't need the ball in my hands to be effective, so I think I'd be a great asset to any team. I think here I'd be a perfect fit because I can stretch the floor, be a great threat from that off-guard position and defend, rebound, pass, do whatever the coach asks me to do."
Said Milwaukee director of scouting Billy McKinney of Thompson's rising stock: "People are looking at him in a variety of ranges and once he gets into the workouts, much like the European players, he's so fundamentally sound that going through the workouts really is a benefit for him and the teams that are looking at him."
An alternative at No. 10 could be Colorado's Alec Burks, who is considered to be a better athlete than Thompson but more of a slasher, a player whose jump shot needs work. The 6-foot-6 sophomore does not lack for confidence, and he reportedly had a stellar workout in Milwaukee in early June.
Asked to name the best part of his game, Burks said: "Versatility. At my height, not a lot of people can do what I do, which is to dribble the ball as a point guard, shoot and create plays. I feel like creating is one of my strong points."
Others who have been mentioned for Milwaukee at No. 10 include forward Bismack Biyombo, Texas teammates Tristan Thompson and Jordan Hamilton and Lithuanian big man Donatas Motiejunas.
None of them shoots quite like Klay Thompson, though. Which is why the Bucks should stick to the K-I-S-S draft strategy. Keep. It. Simple: Shooting.
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