The Milwaukee Bucks will have the No. 17 overall pick, just three selections outside of the lottery, in the 2018 NBA Draft next month.
After the squad took the Boston Celtics to Game 7 in the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the now-eliminated Bucks are preparing for the draft. They will soon have a new head coach leading their charge, too, with Mike Budenholzer and Ettore Messina emerging as early favorites.
While whoever is hired will eventually help steer the direction of their draft selection, the front office has already been linked to two players who may be on the board when they are on the clock.
One player is 20-year-old big man Robert Williams, who will not be participating in the 2018 NBA Draft Combine in Chicago. He has a massive 7-foot-5 wingspan, which is something the organization tends to favor.
According to Gery Woelfel, Milwaukee is interested in the former Texas A&M standout. He averaged 11.1 points and 8.7 rebounds per game during his two collegiate seasons. Williams also led the SEC in total rebound percentage (18.9 percent) last year.
Another player who has emerged as an early favorite for the Bucks is Zhaire Smith. The former Texas Tech guard is a sharpshooter from long range, even though he did not have many three-pointers per game.
Jeremy Woo recently wrote about why the 18-year-old would fit well with Milwaukee when he selected him there in his mock draft released after the lottery results (via Sports Illustrated):
“Jabari Parker’s restricted free agency could create a tricky situation for the Bucks, and finding ways to keep putting versatile lineups around Giannis Antetokounmpo should be Milwaukee’s prerogative. The Bucks have been no stranger to big swings in the past, and Smith would qualify. One of the draft’s bigger home-run swings, he’s a jaw-dropping athlete without much of a résumé, nor much feel for creating his own offense on the perimeter. He certainly passes the eye test, and has gone from unknown prospect to a virtual lock somewhere in the first round. He could become a high-flying two-way contributor, or he could flame out quickly. Whoever drafts him will need to be patient.”
The Bucks are certainly in win-now mode considering they’ll look to make a deep run in the postseason next year. But the team lacks outside shooting and a prospect like Smith could him them tremendously over the next few years as he gets older and more polished.
Steve Kyler also had Milwaukee select Smith when he did a mock draft last week for Basketball Insiders.
Other notable prospects the team has brought in for draft workouts so far include Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ, Kentucky’s PJ Washington and Tennessee’s Admiral Schofield.
Washington, however, may not stay in the draft if he is not promised a first-round pick. It’s unlikely the Bucks would reach for the 6-foot-7 forward with their first selection. He can make a strong case for himself at the Combine in Chicago.
Happ still has another year of eligibility and may return to college. He averaged 17.9 points and 8.0 rebounds as a junior and led the Big Ten in two-point field goals. The forward will not be at the 2018 NBA Draft Combine, but he has worked out for some teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder.
Schofield is a guard who has worked out with the Brooklyn Nets and Atlanta Hawks. He could be a late second-rounder or potentially even sign as an undrafted free agent.