Milwaukee Bucks Big Board 2.0 - A new Number 1 emerges
With just one day until the 2022 NBA Draft, I've added a few prospects and updated my order.
The 2022 NBA Draft is tomorrow, and personally I am proud of Jon Horst and the Milwaukee Bucks front office for making it this far without trading down or out of the first round yet. There’s still time, but for now Milwaukee still holds pick number 24 and has actually been rumored as a candidate to trade up, which would be honestly shocking.
I’m not going to cover all prospects available at 14 here given no trade has actually occurred yet, but Mark Williams and any wings ranked among lottery prospects are going to be intriguing by default. My stance is that if the Bucks trade up it’s because they really love a prospect, so I’d be excited to see basically anybody selected (as long as the pick doesn’t seem like a massive reach).
To be somewhat scientific and not build up too much false hope, in my first big board I excluded every single player named in the top 14 from a selection of big boards penned by draft experts. Those players were as follows:
Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith, Paolo Banchero, Jaden Ivey, Keegan Murray, Dyson Daniels, Shaedon Sharpe, Bennedict Mathurin, AJ Griffin, Jalen Duren, Johnny Davis, Ousmane Dieng, Malaki Branham, Mark Williams, Jeremy Sochan, TyTy Washington, Ochai Agbaji
I’ve changed my mind on one of these players and included him, as he’s falling on boards despite being a very intriguing option for Milwaukee in my opinion. Additionally I’ve also added another pair of prospects who have either been mocked to Milwaukee or mentioned as good options, as well as updated my previous rankings after discussing the first 11 prospects with Rohan Katti on the most recent episode of the Gyro Step.
Without further ado, here’s the new ranked list of 14 prospects on my Milwaukee Bucks-specific Big Board.
1. TyTy Washington
Not only does TyTy Washington join the ranks of my big board, he immediately shoots to the top as a combo guard who is likely being underrated for two reasons: he dealt with an injury that hampered his production in the second half of the season after a stronger start, and he was a guard at Kentucky. As outlined here by The Box and One, Kentucky guards often end up not getting to show all they can do, and Washington is no exception.
A 6’3” guard with a 6’9” wingspan who can operate on and off of the ball is an ideal fit for the Bucks, who should want to upgrade on Grayson Allen at the 2 if at all possible. Washington might not be better from the jump, but his talent and measurables mean he’s got the potential to be a major part of Milwaukee’s core. Adding someone who can handle the ball is a clear need for the Bucks after their playoff flameout, and if that player also projects to be useful when playing with Milwaukee’s Big Three and thus not being on the ball, that’s all the better.
2. E.J. Liddell
Despite some clear offensive fit concerns, I’ve still got E.J. Liddell high on my board for the Bucks. The development of his jumper is going to be paramount to his overall success whether he’s drafted by Milwaukee or not, but if Liddell ends up a Buck and develops a shot he’ll be a key piece for years to come as a lockdown frontcourt partner for Giannis.
3. Jalen Williams
I docked Jalen Williams points for not having exceptional burst without giving him the credit for being longer than his height -- he’s 6’6” with a 7’2” wingspan which is a big deal for his potential, especially on the defensive end. The mix of frame, ball-handling, and shooting skills give Williams a lot of upside on the wing, and he could end up being a nice fit with Milwaukee.
4. Andrew Nembhard
Another newcomer to this big board, Andrew Nembhard would be a classic Bucks draft pick: a four-year college player who developed as a shooter. The least Bucksy thing about him is that he’s poised to step into backup point guard duties. Nembhard’s playmaking poise is rock-solid but I’m less sold on his shooting, as he was below 80% from free throw and 35% from three-point territory for three years before jumping over both marks his senior year.
It’s likely Nembhard will be ready for some sort of NBA role from the jump, and his comfort with shooting step-backs and off-the-dribble threes indicate he has a shot to be an excellent offensive point guard at the next level. This would be a fun pick.
5. Walker Kessler
My insatiable hunger for some sort of Brook Lopez contingency plan likely had me too high on Kessler in my first attempt, but unlike a loud section of Bucks Twitter I’d still be just fine if Milwaukee drafts him. Kessler’s size and rim protection ability is not easy to find these days, and there’s at least the beginnings of a jumper here too. As with many prospects, developing a jumper and other offensive traits to fit with a funky Bucks team is paramount to Kessler’s success. I’m willing to take the chance he doesn’t figure it out given the tools he has that perfectly fit a team that loves to drop.
6. Christian Braun
The clear pathway to success for an athletic forward who can shoot and needs some work around the edges in Milwaukee leads me to keep Braun fairly high here, even though I wouldn’t be over the moon with the pick. There’s not much star potential if any here, but I think Braun has a high floor for players available in this range and would fit in quickly with the Bucks.
I’d just like to note this is the point in my board where I’m officially fine with the Bucks trading down, given that no exciting prospects not mentioned dropped all the way to 24. I’d be fine with any of the top 12 prospects on my board, but also fine with Milwaukee adding future assets to pick a bit later and have less options if the following players are all that’s left.
7. Kennedy Chandler
Despite being the shortest prospect measured at the 2022 combine I don’t think Kennedy Chandler is too small to succeed on the Bucks or in the NBA -- he’s 5’11” and a half with a 6’5” wingspan and room to grow given he’s still a teenager. Chandler’s offensive game is quite refined outside of his pull-up three-point shooting, but he did shoot 38.3% overall from three despite a middling 60% rate from free throw.
8. Dalen Terry
Dalen Terry is, in some ways, the opposite wing prospect of Christian Braun. There’s a universe where he’s a really excellent player given his measurables (6’6” height, 7’0” wingspan) and proven ball-handling ability. Terry’s shot is a real question mark though, and that makes his early rotation fit a big question mark that could lead to not enough development opportunity.
9. Blake Wesley
Blake Wesley is the point on my board where prospects become more theoretical than practical. Wesley would be near the top of my draft board for the 2015 Bucks, but I worry that players who need a lot of work won’t get the opportunity they likely need as long as Milwaukee continues to contend and have a stream of game-ready vets strolling into Fiserv Forum.
That said, despite pretty bad percentages from three-point and free-throw lines Wesley does project as a really potent two-way wing, if everything breaks right for him. It feels likely a team above the Bucks with more patience and room to develop players will take the gamble on Wesley, but if he falls to Milwaukee I’ll be intrigued at every minute he plays whether it’s in Milwaukee or Oshkosh.
10. MarJon Beauchamp
I see MarJon Beauchamp as fairly similar to Wesley, as the potential is there for both players to be difference-makers on the wing despite current production not necessarily proving it. I’d be fine with gambles on either player in one sense, as Milwaukee taking them would indicate the Bucks believe in their potential to contribute in the short-term -- I’d be surprised if Horst selects any prospect who he doesn’t think can play in their rookie year.
11. Christian Koloko
I see Christian Koloko as an older version of Walker Kessler who has even more ground to cover to become an NBA shooting threat, hence he’s dropped down here despite being more likely to do some okay work defending outside of the paint. He’s still one of my favorite prospects to potentially be there in the second round if Milwaukee acquires a pick there or trades down though.
12. Tari Eason
I hope some team above the Bucks is the one to take the swing on Tari Eason, because as much as I like his shot to become an impact player in the NBA I equally do not believe the Bucks are the team to get the most out of him. Eason’s physical tools and defense are undeniable but his jumper hasn’t been there and I don’t see a pathway to him playing major minutes unless he turns that around rapidly.
13. Nikola Jovic
You could argue Nikola Jovic has the highest ceiling on this big board -- I wouldn’t buy it, but you could argue that. I don’t see him reaching that ceiling in Milwaukee unless he develops at a breakneck pace, especially with big man specialist Darvin Ham in Los Angeles now.
14. Patrick Baldwin Jr.
All the best to Wisconsin’s own Pat Baldwin Jr, who I will root for in the NBA but also don’t want to see in Milwaukee post-draft unless he falls and they buy into a second round pick. Baldwin going to a developmental hub like San Antonio or Toronto makes a lot of sense, but I just can’t see him being able to contribute to the Bucks in the short-term.