Bucks face tough decisions in NBA draft

Here we are on the eve of the NBA Draft. As of now, the Milwaukee Bucks have the 17th pick in the first round of the NBA draft.

The key words there are “as of now.”

A potentially franchise-altering offseason for Milwaukee will get underway with tomorrow’s draft, which means the Bucks could trade up, trade down or even trade players.

Coming off an unsatisfying season and heading into their new arena with a new coach, the Bucks must build a suitable roster around star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo if they hope to become a bona fide contender in what should be a LeBron-less Eastern Conference.

Among their biggest needs are a physical big man and perimeter shooting. A long-term answer at point guard wouldn’t hurt, either. And soon they must decide what to do with restricted free agent forward Jabari Parker, who was on the same trajectory as Antetokounmpo until knee problems sidetracked his career.

The Bucks have been particularly quiet in the leadup to the draft and the most interesting tidbit came from long-time NBA writer Chris Sheridan, who tweeted this three days ago: “I expect the Bucks to move Eric Bledsoe and Jabari Parker, because Giannis Antetokounmpo does not enjoy playing alongside those two.”

Take that for what it’s worth, but the heat is on the Bucks to upgrade Antetokounmpo’s supporting cast, even if they stay put tonight and exercise the No. 17 pick. General manager Jon Horst indicated a change of direction Tuesday when he said the Bucks, after five years of drafting really young players and hoping they develop into something special, would like to get a more immediate-impact player from this draft.

Since all the NBA-ready big men likely will be taken in the lottery picks and since the draft is overloaded with wing scorers, the Bucks seem likely to add a perimeter player who can shoot the 3-point shot and defend out on the floor. Unless they make a trade, of course.

Here is one guess as to how a volatile first round will go tonight:

No. 1 – Phoenix Suns

DeAndre Ayton, C, Arizona

Only question is whether he’ll have to take a pay cut to go to the NBA.

No. 2 – Sacramento Kings

Marvin Bagley III, PF, Duke

Kings need scoring and Bagley can score from anywhere.

No. 3 – Atlanta Hawks

Luka Doncic, SG, Slovenia

Doncic wanted no part of Kings so Hawks get draft’s most NBA-ready player.

No. 4- Memphis Grizzlies

Jaren Jackson Jr., PF, Michigan State

Youngest player in the draft has plenty of room for growth.

No. 5 – Dallas Mavericks

Mo Bamba, C, Texas

Already a rim-protector, Bamba has shown improved outside shot in team workouts.

No. 6 – Orlando Magic

Trae Young, PG, Oklahoma

Though he led the NCAA in scoring and assists, he’s not second coming of Steph Curry.

No. 7 – Chicago Bulls

Michael Porter Jr., SF, Missouri

Back issues make him a risky pick or he would have been off the board by now.

No. 8 – Cleveland Cavaliers

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, PG, Kentucky

Cavaliers need young talent as they enter the post-LeBron James era.

No. 9 – New York Knicks

Wendell Carter, PF, Duke

Knicks give Kristaps Porzingis a well-rounded runningmate in the frontcourt.

No. 10 – Philadelphia 76ers

Mikal Bridges, SF, Villanova

After winning NCAA title at Nova, Bridges simply moves across town.

No. 11 – Charlotte Hornets

Kevin Knox, SF, Kentucky

In time, the versatile forward will shoot better than he did in one college season.

No. 12 – L.A. Clippers

Collin Sexton, PG, Alabama

Point guard not a pressing need, but Sexton brings talent, leadership.

No. 13 – L.A. Clippers

Robert Williams, C, Texas A&M

Starting to look like Clippers will need replacement for DeAndre Jordan.

No. 14 – Denver Nuggets

Miles Bridges, SF, Michigan State

Nuggets didn’t expect athletic wing to still be on the board at this point.

No. 15 – Washington Wizards

Lonnie Walker, SG, Miami (Fla.)

Wizards need explosive scorer coming off bench and Walker fills the bill.

No. 16 – Phoenix Suns

Zhaire Smith, SG, Texas Tech

Best athlete in the draft has shot much better than expected in team workouts.

No. 17 – Milwaukee Bucks

Kevin Huerter, SG, Maryland

The bigs are gone, so Bucks take the best 3-and-D player they can find. Not sure about his defense, but Huerter can shoot the 3.

No. 18 – San Antonio Spurs

Troy Brown, SF, Oregon

If Brown hadn’t shot 29 percent from 3 as a freshman, Bucks might have taken him at 17.

No. 19 – Atlanta Hawks

Jerome Robinson, SF, Boston College

Because in the modern NBA a team can never have enough wing scorers.

No. 20 – Minnesota Timberwolves

Dante DiVincenzo, SG, Villanova

Combo guard backed up 31-point outburst in NCAA final during combine, workouts.

No. 21 – Utah Jazz

Aaron Holiday, PG, UCLA

Some think Holiday won’t get past the Bucks. If the Bucks trade Bledsoe, he might not.

No. 22 – Chicago Bulls

Chandler Hutchison, SG, Boise State

Hutchison is similar to Kevin Huerter, only he’s two years older.

No. 23 – Indiana Pacers

Jacob Evans, SF, Cincinnati

Draft’s endless run on wing scorers continues as Pacers gear up for breakout year.

No. 24 – Portland Trailblazers

Keita Bates-Diop, SF, Ohio State

Big Ten player of the year versatile enough to handle either forward position.

No. 25 – L.A. Lakers

Mitchell Robinson, C, Chalmette (La.) High School

Biggest unknown in draft could be a steal … or a bust.

No. 26 – Philadelphia 76ers

Khyri Thomas, SG, Creighton

Elite perimeter defender sinks 3s with regularity, a skill set made for NBA.

No. 27 – Boston Celtics

Dzanan Musa, SF, Bosnia

Celtics are loaded so they can take a chance on versatile, 6-foot-9 wing with upside.

No. 28 – Golden State Warriors

Josh Okogie, SG, Georgia Tech

Warriors need a center, settle for still another dangerous perimeter shooter.

No. 29 – Brooklyn Nets

Gary Trent Jr., SG, Duke

A 3-point specialist in his one college season, Trent should expand game in NBA.

No. 30 – Atlanta Hawks

Jalen Brunson, PG, Villanova

All Brunson does is win. The Hawks could use a few more of those guys.

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