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Bucks have difficult choice in draft pick

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June 17, 2014 | 04:39 PM
I admit it. I’m a fan of professional basketball.

I further admit that I’m a fan of the Milwaukee Bucks.

We all have our crosses to bear.

All of us (few) Bucks fans are waiting with bated breath for June 26 when the team chooses its first round draft pick.

The Bucks have had less than stellar draft success since their no-brainer pick of Kareem Abdul Jabbar in 1969.

Joe Alexander.

Marcus Halslip.

Gary Trent.

And the Yi Jianlian disaster (choose a skinny player from China who doesn’t want to come to Milwaukee — smart, eh?)

Even the right choices turned out to be the wrong ones.

Andrew Bogut (besieged by injuries).

Scott Skiles (traded).

And the worst decision ever— trading Dirk Nowitzki, an all-time great, for Robert “Tractor” Traylor, who is only remembered for his nickname and his girth.

But now they’re in an almost no-lose situation.

At the beginning of the year, this draft was considered one of the best in NBA history. It’s a little less than that after observing the players over a season of college ball, but the top three or four choices have a chance to be pretty special.

The Bucks are at No. 2 and might have a tough choice.

Andrew Wiggins.

Jabari Parker.

Joel Embrid.

And there are some reports that the Bucks are interested in Australian point guard Dante Exum.

Here are my takes for what they’re worth — which is probably as much as most know-it-it all NBA fans.

I say no to Exum. He’s never played big-time competition for any length of time and they already have two point guards in Brandon Knight and last year’s second round find, Nate Wolters. Exum just seems too much of a risk pick, especially if you pass over one of the big three.

Andrew Wiggins was the next LaBron coming out of high school, but was only very good, not great, at Kansas.

Good defensive player. But not much of an outside shooter — not unusual among prep stars who are used to dunking half the time.

But my biggest concern is that he didn’t give 100 percent, 100 percent of the time.

If you have trouble working hard over a 35-game schedule it doesn’t bode well for a 82 game-plus season.

Hard to believe that a team with two of the top three choices (Embrid being the other) would lose 10 games. Some of that has to fall on Wiggins’ shoulders.

The last thing the Bucks need is an underachiever even though everyone says Wiggins has the most potential. Once an underachiever, always one.

Milwaukee is a blue collar, underdog town — their fans don’t like slackers, at least if this one becomes the eventual face of the team.

Embrid? Good college player, but come on. He barely scored 10 points a game.

All the great centers were great in college. The NBA draft history is littered with raw big guys who were drafted high because they were 7-feet-tall.

Michael Olowokandi, Greg Oden, Pervis Ellison. And the Bucks own “project,” Kent Benson.

Oh, and then there was the guy picked before Michael Jordan — Sam Bowie. Don’t hear much about him going into the Hall of Fame.

What do they all have in common? They were big men who were taken first in the draft.

What else did they all have in common? They bombed.

And one more thing — most of them had injury issues. Something else they share with Embrid.

Parker? Love the guy. Character off the charts. Already has the basics down pat.

But there are concerns about him, too.

For starters, he plays small forward the same position as last year’s first rounder Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is certain to be a building block for the future.

Can Giannis play shooting guard? Maybe, but he can’t shoot right now.

Can Parker play power forward? Maybe. But he doesn’t have as much power as most of the NBA power forwards he’d be facing.

Still, I’d choose him. Packer GM Ted Thompson has proven that it’s wise to choose the best player, not for need.

I can see Giannis becoming a sixth-man, energy type player off the bench, playing just about every position on the court. The other stuff can be overcome with experience, especially with someone who works hard like Parker.

Who will the Bucks choose?

Whoever it is better leave their mark right away. If he just adds enough to bring them back to a last-tier playoff team, that won’t be enough to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee. And there are two more wild cards to consider.

Cleveland, which drafts first, is shopping around the top pick.

Philadelphia, which picks behind the Bucks is apparently willing to do anything to trade up.

The latest rumor has the Bucks trading two players to land another first round pick.

It could be a wild night next Thursday — at least for the few of us who count ourselves as NBA junkies.

Halverson is subbing as sports editor until a new one is found.


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