Tom Oates: Barring a trade, Washington point guard Dejounte Murray appears good fit for Bucks
Where the Milwaukee Bucks are concerned, there is only one sure-fire prediction for their first-round pick in tonight’s NBA draft.
They will have options with the No. 10 overall pick.
Milwaukee’s situation is complicated by the widely held belief that it is determined to trade center Greg Monroe, which could open up even more options for the young, rebuilding team. The Bucks likely will stay put at 10 and take the best player available, though it would come as no surprise if they traded up or down.
General manager John Hammond said the Bucks have targeted three or four players at 10 and feel like they’ll get one good enough to contribute to their rebuilding process. Even with all the draftspeak going on, that certainly is believable. However, it is also subject to change at a moment’s notice.
There are eight players who have almost no chance of falling to the Bucks at 10, which means they’ll get one of the top players in the draft’s second tier. It runs about 10 deep with probable down-the-line NBA starters. The Bucks need a point guard, a wing shooter and a big man, especially if they trade Monroe.
Many scouts think the 10th pick is too high for anyone in the second wave of perimeter players, which might leave the Bucks with a solid group of centers and stretch 4s (power forwards who can shoot from the outside) from which to choose. If they insist on drafting a guard, their recent history suggests it would be a young player with boom-or-bust potential.
There are reasons to think trade partners could be readily available tonight. Philadelphia, Boston, Phoenix and Denver each have three first-round draft picks and could be open to offers. One report this week said every team from No. 3 to No. 8 is willing to deal. Atlanta acquired the No. 12 pick Wednesday and reportedly is trying to deal it and the No. 21 pick. Also, the salary cap is expected to jump from $70 million to $94 million, which will free up many teams to fill their holes through free agency and downplay the draft.
With that backdrop, here is one less-than-sure-fire prediction for the first round:
1. Philadelphia: Ben Simmons, SF, LSU — The 76ers see the freshman as a 6-foot-9 point guard, so cue the Magic Johnson comparisons.
2. Los Angeles Lakers: Brandon Ingram, SF, Duke — Just what the Lakers need to replace Kobe Bryant, an athletic wing who can shoot.
3. Boston: Jaylen Brown, SG, California — The freshman’s shot isn’t fully developed, but he’s an elite athlete and the Celtics need a star.
4. Phoenix: Dragan Bender, PF, Croatia — The Suns need a big who can stretch the floor and Bender plays like Kristaps Porzingis.
5. Minnesota: Kris Dunn, PG, Providence — Current point guard Ricky Rubio doesn’t defend well enough for new coach Tom Thibodeau.
6. New Orleans: Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky — The Pelicans are in dire need of guards who can shoot and Murray is a guard who can shoot.
7. Denver: Marquese Chriss, PF, Washington — This draft has seven potential stars and the Nuggets will take whichever one falls to them.
8. Sacramento: Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma — Despite concerns about Hield’s advanced age, the Kings are happy to have the best shooter in the draft.
9. Toronto: Henry Ellenson, PF, Marquette — The freshman’s ability to shoot and create is exactly what the NBA is looking for in a stretch 4.
10. Milwaukee: Dejounte Murray, PG, Washington — The Bucks are known to take chances on young players with huge upsides and Murray, who played one year for the Huskies, fits the description, though a major trade could change everything.
11. Orlando: Skal Labissiere, PF, Kentucky — Lack of production in his one college season couldn’t mask his enormous potential.
12. Atlanta: Jakob Poeltl, C, Utah — The Hawks hope to trade this pick so they can re-sign Al Horford. If not, Poeltl is the draft’s best center.
13. Phoenix: Furkan Korkmaz, SG, Turkey — With three first-round picks, the Suns can stash the young shooter in Europe for another year.
14. Chicago: Deyonta Davis, PF, Michigan State — Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol could leave in free agency and Davis, though raw, is a shot-blocker.
15. Denver: Timothe Luwawu, SG, France — With three first-round picks, the Nuggets can afford to roll the dice on an athletic young shooter.
16. Boston: Domantas Sabonis, PF, Gonzaga — It’s not often that a team gets an NBA-ready contributor outside the lottery.
17. Memphis: Malachi Richardson, SG, Syracuse — A strong NCAA tournament run hinted at this freshman shooter’s sizable upside.
18. Detroit: Denzel Valentine, SG, Michigan State — If the Pistons aren’t scared off by reported knee problems, he’s a perfect fit.
19. Denver: Ante Zizic, C, Croatia — After taking Luwawu, the Nuggets add a second potential draft-and-stash product from Europe.
20. Indiana: Wade Baldwin, PG, Vanderbilt — This sophomore is the kind of shooting point guard NBA teams are seeking these days.
21. Atlanta: Cheick Diallo, PF, Kansas — Diallo is raw, but pre-draft workouts showed talent that failed to surface during his freshman season.
22. Charlotte: Damian Jones, C, Vanderbilt — The Hornets need a rim protector and they get one who can shoot, too.
23. Boston: Ivica Zubac, C, Bosnia — Even in today’s NBA, a team can still find room for a traditional low-post scorer.
24. Philadelphia: Malik Beasley, SG, Florida State — The 76ers need shooters and the underrated Beasley has great range.
25. Los Angeles Clippers: DeAndre Bembry, SF, St. Joseph’s — If this versatile wing was a better shooter, he’d be a lottery pick.
26. Philadelphia: Demetrius Jackson, PG, Notre Dame — If Simmons doesn’t pan out at the point, Jackson can take over.
27. Toronto: Thon Maker, PF, Australia — Some team will gamble on the 7-footer and the Raptors can afford to wait for him to develop.
28. Phoenix: Diamond Stone, C, Maryland — The freshman’s offensive skills are there. Will his defense and rebounding ever catch up?
29. San Antonio: Juan Hernangomez, PF, Spain — With Tim Duncan nearing the end, the Spurs could use a stretch 4 who looks NBA-ready.
30. Golden State: Brice Johnson, PF, North Carolina — If offseason attrition hits the Warriors up front, Johnson could help immediately.