Drafting for talent has been the focus for the Milwaukee Bucks under John Hammond

Hammond at the draft combine. (Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images)
Hammond at the draft combine. (Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images)

“But at the end of the day, the most important thing is that you’re drafting talent.” – John Hammond, June 2012.

The things people say in public aren’t always the things they believe in. Nowhere is that more true in sports. So when John Hammond says that his focus as the general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks is to draft talented players and worry less about drafting players that play positions where Milwaukee needs more help, my first instinct is to check his track record.

The track record reveals this is the ultra-rare scenario where someone says something and it’s true. John Hammond drafts for talent.

It doesn’t always work. We know that. Sometimes the Bucks miss, but it’s hard to be too disappointed in Milwaukee’s recent draft record. With that in mind, it’s hard to think the organization will do anything different come Thursday. Draft for talent, trade for need. If the two align, so be it. But you can bet John Hammond is going to select the player he thinks is the most talented come Thursday night.

Recency bias has people talking quite a bit about Alan Crabbe, Jamaal Franklin and Glen Rice Jr. Crabbe is working out for the Bucks officials outside of the group workout today after missing out on a workout last week due to an injury. Franklin worked out in Milwaukee Monday and Rice returns today for his second workout with the team.

A second workout could imply a number of different things. Recent players to have two workouts with the Bucks are Joe Alexander, Luke Babbitt and Ricky Franklin. Obviously the Bucks drafted and made a mistake with Alexander, but Milwaukee passed on Babbitt to select Larry Sanders in 2010.  It’s also worth mentioning that the current Bucks coaching staff wasn’t around for Rice Jr.’s first workout.

But Crabbe, Franklin and Rice Jr. seem to fit more of the mold of players who the Bucks would consider because of a need, rather than players they have to consider because of talent, at least if you trust the experts at Draft Express and ESPN. The trio falls outside of the top 20 on the Draft Express list of top 100 prospects in this year’s draft and Franklin comes in at 20 on ESPN’s list with the others at 25 and 24 respectively. Basically, the three of them aren’t considered anything other than mid-late to late first round talents in a year that many consider isn’t so stacked with talent.

That’s not to say these lists are infallible. Plenty of players every year surprise after initially being lightly regarded. But the Bucks have went for high upside players who have generally been regarded as a bit more “raw” over the past few years. Alexander and Sanders are the best examples. Brandon Jennings was quite literally an international man of mystery. Tobias Harris played one year in college after being selected a McDonald’s All-American in high school. John Henson was nothing but reach and ribs. Most importantly, Milwaukee was able to work with Jennings, Sanders, Harris and Henson and create rotation players and in the case of Sanders and maybe Henson, potential impact players even.

Despite picking in undesirable locations year after year, the Bucks have found a way to land talent by drafting for talent. I’m not sure Crabbe, Franklin or Rice Jr. fits that mindset. Shane Larkin. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Dennis Schröder. Those guys seem to fit the plan a bit more.

So don’t let these last few workouts get you too worked up either way. Remember the process, trust that the team will follow it and hope it will be more Sanders than Alexander.

Categories: Draft Talk

Tags: ,,,,


  1. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for KCP. I like that kid. Trouble is I believe he will be picked shortly before our turn. I know the Bucks do not shy away from making draft day trades, but how do you trade up for 2 spots like that in the middle of the draft, it’s hard to do that.

  2. If it comes to pick #15 and Shane Larkin AND Shabazz Muhammad are both available. I would have to take Muhammad. I know we need a PG and all, but despite Muhammad’s issues, he’s freaking ridiculous good. I can’t believe he’s at #16 or #17..

  3. I really like Shroder as a prospect, I think he has lots of potential on both sides of the ball. If we grabbed him, or a point guard for that matter, I would love moving into the late first round to grab tony snell.

  4. There have been many rumors that PG Dennis Schroeder received a draft day promise prior to the start of the combine, which caused him to immediately become ill with the tooth ache. One has to wonder if that promise came from the Bucks? I guess we will find out in a couple days.

    I still hope that the Buck can work out a trade with Dallas for the 12th pick and get KCP. Of course trading with Washington and getting the 3rd pick to obtain Potter or McLenmore would be even better.

  5. Joe Alexander, Jodie Meeks, Tiny Gallon, Darington Hobson, Jon Leuer, Doron Lamb, and Jimmer Fredette/Tobias Harris

    here’s some trivia: you tell me which of these players Hammond has drafted that isn’t on the Bucks roster.. hmmm

    so 4 of the 11 total picks that Hammond has drafted for in just the last 5 years are no longer on the roster and the team has not gotten an y better.. keep those Talent over Need over whatever arguments to yourself

    • What’s the typical success rate of second round picks? I’m not sure it’s fair to even include Jimmer in this when he was drafted for someone else. Bucks never had anything to do with him.

      I’d ask you to consider more than just who is left on the roster. Consider what was gained for them, what the expected production of that pick is, things like that.

      • Right Jeremy, assuming the roster turnover was turning into productivity or a better squad.. We love to talk about how Hammond is a draft day mover/shaker, but what has that done for us? Truth is we got lucky that Henson fell to us.. it’s not draft foresight

        • I think you really need to look at success rates of second round picks and realize John Hammond is actually really good at drafting. Take note of what picks the Bucks are drafting at. Between Brandon Jennings (10), Larry Sanders (15), Tobias Harris (19), and John Henson (14), which is a bad pick for the spot Hammond was drafting them at? Joe Alexander (8) was an embarrassment and a pick that will never happen again. Oh but wait we did get Mbah a Moute (37) in the second round that year! Jon Leuer (40), Doron Lamb (42), Jodie Meeks (41) are on NBA rosters getting playing time. He drafts really really well. Make great trades? Absolutely not. Signing good players? Iffy at best. Hell of a drafter? You bet.

          • so by that logic John Hammond is a terrific drafter because of his contributions to other NBA rosters? Got it

          • And by yours a team is made up of only players the team drafted? Does the Nuggets GM who drafted Carmelo suck because hes contributing for the New York Knickerbockers these days? Jon Leuer was traded essentially for Samuel Dalembert and we technically got John Henson out of the deal, both who contributed to the Bucks. Which team the player is now contributing to has nothing to do with how good a general manager drafts.

          • No he’s a genius because he is the GM for the Nuggets.. and he made the Nuggets better.. get it.. good drafter because he makes the team HE works for better because of the drafts.. let me know if I lose you

          • So by that logic the Nuggets GM is a terrific drafter because of his contribution to other NBA rosters? Got it. You lost to yourself on your own argument. Let me know if I lose you, you do seem really lost on the topic of a general manager drafting well, extremely lost. Jeremy sees it, I see it, people with grey matter in between their ears see it. If the team didn’t have BJ3, John Henson, Larry Sanders, JJ Redick (through Tobias and Doron) Sam Dalembert (through Leuer) they would have been much worse last year. Remember where each player was picked too, 10th was the highest out of those picks. You don’t magically make a team better just by drafting (unless year after year of top 5 picks), you have to trade and sign well also, two things Hammond is not very good at. He is good at drafting, so good he won’t take Rudy Gobert who you want to draft for some reason?

  6. I still say draft for talent, not need. The year the Bucks drafted for Joe Alexander on need instead of talent, they passed on Roy Hibbert. I think part of that was because we had Bogut. Fast forward to today and i would love to have Hibbert playing alongside Sanders. Where is Bogut? You never know what injuries and development will do to/for a team.

    • and when drafting in the middle of the 1st round, i would always draft for biggest UPSIDE. It’s always a crap shoot. If the personnel you have is supposedly suppose to do what you hire them to do, you should be able to bring out the talent.

      • Yeah I feel that Rudy Gobert kid is a story in progress, similar to Hibbert.. he is much more athletic than Roy, but has struggled from what I hear in workouts.. but imagine the upside.. not uncommon for a kid to struggle in his first real showings on US soil.. Hoops Summit is neat, but not nearly as physical

  7. I like Dennis Schroeder in the 1st round and CJ Leslie in the 2nd.

    We should NOT match ANY offer made to Jennings.

    Protect cap space!!!!!!!!!!

  8. BEWARE!!!!! Schroeder played in the Euro league where there is not as much talent as the NBA. Not even comparable! So of course, Schroeder looks “good” on film because of that. I could see him busting. BUSTING really, really bad. It’d be our f#$!ing luck…

    If you have to choose, take Larkin I guess. I say take the risk and take Muhammad @ #15, but I am sure they won’t. Of course.

  9. I dont care who falls to the Bucks selection (outside of guys who are GOING top 5) if Shabazz Muhammad is there then he needs to be the pick. Are people really that afraid of this dude? He has top 3 talent.