(We’re counting down the best 20 Bucks since 1991 over the next few weeks. It’s something to do with the lockout sucking the life out of NBA fans. We continue with Todd Day, the player on this list most likely to make you want to cry.)
If you think you don’t like Todd Day, just be glad you’re not a Boston Celtics fan. For as much damage as Day did to the Milwaukee Bucks organization, at least he didn’t contribute to running a legend out of town Unless you count Alton Lister.
According to Jackie MacMullen’s Larry Bird biography, “Bird Watching”, the deal that sent Day and Liston to the Celtics for Sherman Douglas hastened his exit. In Larry’s words:
“Todd Day was a selfish player who thought only about one thing — how to get himself a shot. When I heard about the deal, that’s the day I made up my mind I wouldn’t be in Boston too much longer.”
Toni Kukoc, he was not. (This might be where you say, ‘THEN WHY IS HE RANKED HIGHER!?” My response is simply that he was more productive. I know productivity isn’t the end all be all, but both of them played on crappy Bucks teams. And I know Day’s teams were crappier and that he was a big part of it, but he had bad teammates too. So that’s that.)
The Bucks selected Day with the eighth pick of the 1992 draft and his backcourt mate at the University of Arkansas Lee Mayberry with pick 23. On paper, reuniting “MayDay” seemed like a great idea. Day had great size for a shooting guard and Mayberry had just piloted a team to four straight NCAA tournament appearances, including one Final Four.
But the success the two had in college failed to translate. Mayberry couldn’t score and failed to create much offense for his teammates. As a point guard, that was a problem. Day was a more complex type of failure.
It isn’t that Day wasn’t talented, he certainly was. Roughly one month after being traded to the Celtics he scored 24 points in a quarter, tying the franchise record held by Larry Bird. He could put points on the board, even if he wasn’t always a great shooter. It seemed that Day didn’t want to spend his career scoring points for the Bucks though. More specifically, he didn’t want any part of being in Milwaukee.
After two average seasons, but moderately productive seasons, Day seemed to be on the verge of breaking out. In his third season he averaged 16 points per game and made significant strides as a three-point shooter (from 22.3% in year two, to 39% in year three). But Day had apparently had enough of Wisconsin. Day played in eight games for the Bucks in the 1995-96 season before being traded to Boston. He made just 22 of the 71 shots he attempted (31%) and five of 25 threes (20%). It seemed that Day had checked out of Milwaukee.
Honestly though, it is probably more accurate to say that basketball skills had checked out of Todd Day. A player that seemed like he had some potential left in him was suddenly on the fast track to being a below average journeyman. Never again would he shoot better than 40%. He would start just 40 more games in the NBA and found himself out of the league within five years. His 483 games played were the fewest of any lottery pick in 1992.
So how does he rank as our 19th best Buck of the past 20 years? Its been a pretty slim 20 years. Day provided a marginal scoring punch for three years. Sadly, you could say Milwaukee sold high on one of the franchises worst lottery picks of all time. Sherman Douglas was an average point guard and good guy to have in the locker room for two seasons.
And that’s probably more than could have been said of Day at the time.
Jeremy Schmidt writes the Milwaukee Bucks blog Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter. While you’re at it, become a fan on Facebook.