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History of No. 15 pick puts Bucks in a quandary

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Associated Press
June 24, 2010
— In 42 years, the Milwaukee Bucks have drafted three Hall of Famers and one guy who is going to join them, obscure Springfield voting rituals willing.

But outside of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar—and even the Captain abandoned ship—it isn’t the kind of history that would go on a season-ticket prospectus.


The good doctor, Julius Erving, never so much as made a house call for the local five. Alex English made his bones elsewhere. And the whole Dirk Nowitzki thing, no matter that it was a prearranged Don Nelson coup as opposed to an outright beads-for-Manhattan fleecing of the Bucks, remains a craw-sticker a dozen years after the fact.


The odds have almost favored the Bucks drafting an itinerant college basketball coach (Oliver Purnell, sixth round, 1975; and, yes, SUNY-Oswego/Siena/Marquette/Lamar/Wagner fans, Mike Deane, ninth round, 1974) rather than a game changer.


And then there is the No. 15 choice, a reflection of the NBA draft’s unpredictability if there ever was one.


Stuck in that hoops no-man’s land with their first-round pick, the Bucks have only one semi-lock for tonight: They shouldn’t trade up if the price were, for example, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. That level of defense in exchange for an $854,000 salary cannot be found in this NBA.


It wouldn’t be worth it for the lower-lottery selection it would get them in this draft. Besides, value contracts like Mbah a Moute’s are part of the reason the Bucks have found traction in the last two years.


Problem is, history doesn’t always smile on the 15th. The last time the Bucks had it, they took the late Jason Collier and sent him and a future first-round pick to Houston for No. 9 Joel Przybilla. That right there is a deterrent for trading up.


During the past decade, the No. 15 pick got you Cedric Simmons, Reece Gaines and Boki Nachbar, the Boki Nachbar.


But it also got you Robin Lopez, Al Jefferson and, in 2007, Rodney Stuckey.


Stuckey is an interesting case study in that he was Detroit’s first-round pick the last time John Hammond was in on the Pistons’ decision-making process. Stuckey has been a load over in Motown to the point that Paul Pierce once called him an “X factor” during the playoffs.


But, of course, history is no indication of future results. Trader John has batted .500 in making the final call these last two seasons for the Bucks, having whiffed with Joe Alexander and hitting one from here to Lottomatica Roma with Brandon Jennings.


Having satisfied their small forward/more athleticism wants with Corey Maggette, what the Bucks need, other than backups for Jennings and Andrew Bogut, is another shooter. They like Butler’s Gordon Hayward about as much as Latrell Sprewell liked matching up against Glenn Robinson, which is to say a whole lot. If Hayward’s there, he should be the Bucks’ designated three-ball specialist.


If the Rockets have the same idea at 14, the Bucks also like the idea of running the seamless Xavier Henry of Kansas through human resources, not to mention around a pick or two. My feeling is the Bucks have a decent shot at re-signing John Salmons, but you can never have enough quick, strong shooters. Henry is all that.


So the Bucks have options at the problematic 15th hole, even if they move down to get Bogut a little help. The draft itself is dodgy enough that trading up is always a risk, especially this year.


Michael Hunt is a columnist for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


POSSIBLE BUCKS’ CHOICES

The Bucks have the 15th pick in the first round of tonight’s NBA Draft. Here are some possible picks, as taken from mock drafts:


-- Xavier Henry, 6-6, 220 pounds, Kansas, shooting guard: Perfect NBA wing with good range and already developed NBA body. A lot of people have been sleeping on him but I’m anticipating he’ll find a way to land in the lottery. Look for Memphis to take him as insurance in case they can’t retain Rudy Gay.—Hoops Addict


-- Luke Babbitt, 6-7 ½, 218 pounds, Nevada, strong forward: Almost as tough, better shooting version of Matt Harpring. Made 50 percent of shots this season, 42 percent of threes, 92 percent of free throws.—Mark Heisler, Los Angeles Times


-- Patrick Patterson, 6-9, 235 pounds, Kentucky power forward: They’ve filled the two tough spots at center (Andrew Bogut) and point guard (Brandon Jennings). Now they’re looking for depth in-between.—Rick Bonnell, The Charlotte Observer (Charlotte, N.C.).


-- Cole Aldrich, 6-10, 236 pounds, Kansas center: Nice back-up for Bogut.—Chad Ford, ESPN Insider.


-- Daniel Orton, 6-10, 255 pounds, Kentucky center: Another long-term project with huge upside, Orton has the makings of a big-time shot-blocker and rebounder. He doesn’t shy away from physical play, and his soft touch gives hope that he’ll become a low-post scorer. Over the course of his rookie contract he could emerge as an excellent defensive-minded backup for Andrew Bogut.— Ian Thomsen, SI.com



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