The Milwaukee Bucks want a power forward. That much appears clear, two days from the NBA draft. But sometimes, the best laid plans do not come to fruition.
Each of the power forwards that the Bucks may be most interested in come draft day, Patrick Patterson, Ed Davis and Ekpe Udoh could be off the board, at least according to the TrueHoop Network Mock Draft. But the Bucks seem to have themselves well prepared for that possibility. In working out swingmen, Paul George, Gordon Hayward, Luke Babbitt and Xavier Henry the Bucks have been knee deep in guard/forwards for weeks. And in a fairly even and moderately deep pool of prospects that will be available to them at the 15th pick something will need to stand out.
That something appears as likely to be the vast skill set of Gordon Hayward as it is anything else. Hayward is rumored to go as high as number eight to the Los Angeles Clippers, but in our mock draft, he’s fallen here to the Bucks who are reportedly very high on him.
Hayward has good size for a two guard if the Bucks eventually feel that is his position, but he’s probably more likely to be an averaged sized small forward. On the plus side, Hayward was a very good rebounder from the three and four in college and rebounding historically translates well. When I spoke with Rob Jeter last week, he was very high on Hayward’s ability off the ball, something not always associated with number one scoring options in college. But something else may help separate Hayward from his peers in the eyes of Milwaukee.
Hayward’s abilities as a ball-handler and decision maker seem a perfect fit for the small forward position in Milwaukee. Bucks fans are fresh off a season in which Carlos Delfino played the bulk of the small forward minutes for Milwaukee and enjoyed his finest season in the NBA. It was Delfino’s defense and versatility that earned him the heavy minutes he was enjoying by season’s end. While he was often the definition of inconsistent, Delfino’s ability to step out and hit a three in one instant and drive to the basket for a reverse layup in another was what made him such a good fit for Milwaukee. Bucks wing players are relied heavily upon to handle the ball and make decisions.
Gordon Hayward’s entire draft stock rests largely on his ability to make basketball decisions and from what information has been made available, the Bucks appear to be sold that he’s as strong as anyone in this draft class in that area.
For the next pick in the mock draft, check out A Wolf Among Wolves.