The NBA Draft Combine, the first major event of the Milwaukee Bucks offseason, took place in Chicago on Thursday.
Top prospects Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Joel Embiid did not attend the combine, which put a damper on the amount of insight the Bucks could gather at the event. But the first day still allowed some information to be gained on Dante Exum, Julius Randle and players who the Bucks could select in the second round.
Before we get started, quick refresher. The Bucks hold their first round pick, which will have its exact position determined during Tuesday’s Draft Lottery (by the way … WATCH IT WITH US AT OUR LOTTERY PARTY), and the 31st, 36th and 48th picks. So many picks!
Dante Exum, Australia
Measurements: Hand length – 8.5 inches; Height without shoes - 6’4.5; Standing reach - 8’7; Weight - 196.3 lbs; Wingspan - 6’9.5
The lengthy point guard from Australia was the best prospect at the combine on Thursday, and the media jumped on the opportunity to talk with this relatively unknown player. His father, Cecil Exum, played basketball at the University of North Carolina on the 1982 Championship team with Michael Jordan and James Worthy. His father moved to Australia to play professional basketball in the country’s National Basketball League. Exum’s mother also played basketball at UNC. So, Dante Exum has a large amount of American basketball pedigree for an international player.
There has been chatter that Exum wants to only play for the Los Angeles Lakers and would be upset being drafted by any other team. Exum said this theory was “twisted” by the media and he wants to play for any team which allows him to play point guard. He also values team chemistry and a stable system. The Bucks seems to have two of those three criteria and Exum, although he conveyed some hesitation when talking about Milwaukee, never expressed desire to only play in L.A. He said he had an interview scheduled with the Bucks later in the day.
Exum did not participate in any drills on Thursday because of his high draft status. But he is reportedly going to participate tomorrow, which will be exciting.
We will have more on Exum in the coming weeks.
Julius Randle, Kentucky
Hand length – 8.75 inches; Height without shoes - 6’7.75; Standing reach - 8’9.5; Weight - 249.7 lbs; Wingspan - 7’0
The big man out of Kentucky would be a consideration for the Bucks if they were to fall to the fourth pick in Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery. It’s unlikely they would draft him over Wiggins, Parker or Embiid.
Randle is large. The type of large that could scare a team into thinking he could get even larger (think large mound of rebound large). But at the moment he has the mass curbed to fall under 250 pounds. If you’re a University of Wisconsin basketball fan, then you’re aware of Randle who helped eliminate the Badgers in the Final Four. His biggest strength is rebounding due to his mass that allows him to get great positioning. However, he will be hindered by his relatively small wingspan.
Like Exum, we will have more on Randle in the upcoming weeks.
Russ Smith, Louisville
Hand length – 8.25 inches; Height without shoes - 5’11.5; Standing reach - 7’11; Weight - 160 lbs; Wingspan - 6’3.5
There were a lot of other fun first round prospects at the combine (Noah Vonleh, Aaron Gordon, Marcus Smart, Tyler Ennis, etc.). But, at the moment, the Bucks are in no position to draft these players so … who cares.
Now, Russ Smith. Here’s a player the Bucks will be in the range to draft and one who I would love to see on the team, especially if he could be snagged with one of the Bucks’ last two second round picks. Smith is undersized, but this has proven to be a problem that can be worked around if the player has an appropriate outlook on the situation. Smith seems to have this outlook, which amounts to him knowing the extra effort he will have to put in to make up for his physical disadvantage. If you ever watched him at Lousiville, you know he’s tough, smart and, now, determined to prove doubters wrong.
Draft Express has the Bucks selecting Smith with the 48th pick in their latest mock draft.
Thasanis Antetokounmpo, D-League
Hand length – 9.0 inches; Height without shoes - 6’5.25; Standing reach - 8’8.5; Weight - 205.2 lbs; Wingspan - 7’0
The older brother of our darling Giannis Antetokounmpo played with the Delaware 87ers in the NBA Development League last season. He played well, allowing his name to be frequently mentioned as a potential second round pick (this is also due to Giannis’ success). Thanasis is not as tall as his younger brother. But he is stronger and more athletic, making him an intriguing complement to his brother although they would most likely play the same position (when asked who would start if they were both on the Bucks, Thanasis answered “whoever works the hardest” … <3).
Listen to Thanasis’ full interview here. Shout-outs to Mr. and Mrs. Antetokounmpo for raising two incredibly grounded, respectful and optimistic young men. Go Antetokounmpos go.
Glenn Robinson III, Michigan
Hand length – 9 inches; Height without shoes - 6’4.5; Standing reach - 8’7; Weight - 211.4 lbs; Wingspan - 6’10
The son of Big Dog talked about his memories of Milwaukee and how much he enjoyed playing in the Bradley Center this March in the NCAA Tournament. Robinson is currently projected as an early second round pick and, like Thanasis, would be a good storyline for the Bucks to draft (if the Bucks drafted based on storyline, which I’m confident they don’t).
Still, Robinson is an interesting prospect who has good measurements and athleticism, which along with his smarts on the game make him a potentially lethal defensive weapon. A knock on Robinson is one which didn’t usually bother his father: sometimes he’s too pass-first.
I would be very on board with Robinson with one of the Bucks final two second round picks.
Nick Johnson, Arizona
Hand length – 8.75 inches; Height without shoes - 6’1.5; Standing reach - 8’0.5; Weight - 198 lbs; Wingspan - 6’7.25
Like Randle, UW basketball fans should be familiar with Nick Johnson, who was a part of the University of Arizona team eliminated by the Badgers in the Elite Eight (FYI … Johnson still doesn’t think this was an offensive foul). Johnson is undersized at just 6’1 without shoes. But he is selling himself to NBA teams as a point guard with defensive tendencies. He is confident in his ball handling ability and believes it will be harder for bigger guards to defend his quickness than it will be for him to defend their size.
If Johnson were 6’5, he would be a first round pick. But he’s not which could be a good thing for the Bucks as he may still be around when their 48th pick goes on the clock. Draft Express compares him to the Boston Celtics’ Avery Bradley and the Bucks would be lucky to draft a player similar to Bradley that late in the draft. If he’s there, pull the trigger.
He also did this in a game … did I mention he’s just 6’1?
We will have another round-up with more prospects after Day 2 of the combine tomorrow.