“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.