The Milwaukee Bucks are dominant despite NBA Draft misses

Milwaukee Bucks Donte DiVincenzo (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Milwaukee Bucks Donte DiVincenzo (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

The Milwaukee Bucks have been dominant, despite lack of draft success

The Milwaukee Bucks have been the most dominant team on both ends of the court during the 2019-20 NBA regular season. Quite frankly, their success on the court has been despite poor drafting.

Outside of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Malcolm Brogdon, and Donte DiVincenzo, the Bucks have not drafted well. Despite their poor drafting, they are still an elite team with the ability to win the 2020 NBA Title.

Giannis didn’t take the league by storm when he entered the league as a rookie in 2013 since he was still growing into his body and hadn’t developed all the skills that make him so unstoppable today. Giannis averaged 6.8 points and 4.4 rebounds during his rookie season for a team that went 15-67 and had the league’s worst record. Giannis is now averaging 29.6 points, 13.7 rebounds, and 5.8 assists per game.

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Let’s take a look at the Bucks’ draft selections since Giannis was drafted and how most of these players are either not in the NBA or on other teams.

Milwaukee Bucks 2013 NBA Draft

Draft selections: Giannis Antetokounmpo (15th), Nate Wolters (38th)

Giannis became the NBA MVP and is leading the Bucks from the league’s worst record his rookie season to the league’s best record this season at 53-12. Nate Wolters is no longer in the NBA. A better draft selection would’ve been Mike Muscala (44th), a stretch 4 that is still a valuable contributor off the bench for the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Milwaukee Bucks 2014 NBA Draft

Draft selections: Jabari Parker (2nd), Damien Inglis (31st), Johnny O’Bryant III (36th)

Jabari Parker was expected to be a surefire future star, but never developed the strength or shooting touch to truly be a dominant player and the Bucks chose to keep Giannis and let go of Parker, who has since jumped from team to team as he continues to find his footing in the NBA.

Parker currently plays for the Sacramento Kings. The Bucks missed out on the opportunity to pair Giannis with a dominant big man as Joel Embiid (3rd) and Nikola Jokic (41st) was also in that draft. Damien Inglis and Johnny O’Bryant III are no longer in the NBA. The Bucks could’ve drafted Joe Harris (33rd), Spencer Dinwiddie (38th), or Jordan Clarkson (46th).

Milwaukee Bucks 2015 NBA Draft

Draft selection: Rashad Vaughn (17th)

The 2015 NBA draft was even worse as the Bucks selected Rashad Vaughn, a player that is no longer in the NBA. Delon Wright (20th) or Larry Nance Jr. (27th) would’ve been better selections than Vaughn.

Milwaukee Bucks 2016 NBA Draft

Draft selections: Thon Maker (10th), Malcolm Brogdon (36th)

Malcolm Brogdon was an integral part of the Bucks’ success but left the team to sign a big-money deal with the Indiana Pacers in 2019. Brogdon won Rookie of the Year, despite being taken in the second round. Thon Maker is currently on the Detroit Pistons after failing to live up to his pre-draft hype.

The Bucks missed out two All-stars in Domantas Sabonis (11th) and Pascal Siakam (27th) in favor of drafting Maker. If Siakam was on the Bucks they likely would’ve advanced to the NBA Finals last season. Siakam ended up helping the Toronto Raptors eliminate the Bucks from the playoffs in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Milwaukee Bucks 2017 NBA Draft

Draft selections: D.J. Wilson (17th), Sterling Brown (46th)

The 2017 NBA Draft was also filled with missed opportunities as the Bucks selected D.J. Wilson and Sterling Brown. Both these players are still on the Bucks but have failed to become key rotational pieces. The Bucks instead could’ve taken John Collins (19th), Kyle Kuzma (27th), Josh Hart (30th), or Dillon Brooks (45th).

Milwaukee Bucks 2018 NBA Draft

Draft selection: Donte DiVincenzo (17th)

The 2018 NBA Draft was slightly more successful as they picked up a rotational piece in Donte DiVincenzo who is the only draft pick other than Giannis to get regular minutes on this current Bucks team. DiVincenzo is averaging 9.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 2.3 assists and has started 22 games for the Bucks during this season.

DiVincenzo provides a decent spark off the bench and can influence the game on both ends of the court with his quickness and defensive instincts.

Milwaukee Bucks 2019 NBA Draft

Draft selections: N/A

Despite the Bucks being unable to pair Giannis with another star with their draft selections, the evolution of Giannis has carried the franchise to new heights and has them as one of the favorites to win the NBA title this season.

One of their cornerstones, Khris Middleton came to the Bucks from the Pistons via trade in 2013 along with Brandon Knight in exchange for Brandon Jennings. Jennings was an exciting point guard for the Bucks, but this trade ended up as a big win for the Bucks as Middleton is currently an All-Star, and Jennings is no longer in the NBA. Middleton is the Bucks’ second-leading scorer, averaging 21.1 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 4.1 assists.

Middleton is a great compliment to Giannis because he is a knockdown 3-point shooter with enough handle to create his own shot or find his teammates. His intensity on the defensive end makes Middleton one of the best 3-and-D wings in the league. The Bucks really have built their team around Giannis and Middleton as both players were acquired in 2013 and have grown together into a talented duo.

Eric Bledsoe was acquired in 2017 after the disgruntled point guard wanted out of the Phoenix Suns. Bledsoe was traded for Greg Monroe and two future draft picks. This was another big win for the Bucks as Bledsoe is one of the best defensive guards in the league and Greg Monroe is no longer in the NBA. Bledsoe is averaging 15.4 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 5.4 assists and has definitely benefitted from playing in a winning environment unlike with the Suns where he was relied on to be their best player.

Their stretch-5, Brook Lopez, is capable of hitting the 3 and protecting the rim. Lopez signed as a free agent in 2018 and is averaging 11 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 2.4 blocks per game. It doesn’t hurt to have family on the team as both Giannis and Brook have their siblings on the team in Thanasis Antetokounmpo and Robin Lopez. The questions still remain concerning the Bucks’ supporting cast and if the complimentary pieces are enough for Giannis to win the championship this season.

The Bucks brought back basically the same team that got to the Eastern Conference Finals last season, but lost Malcolm Brogdon in free agency and added Robin Lopez, Thanasis Antetokunmpo, Kyle Korver, Wesley Matthews and Marvin Williams. The improved depth and the shooting provided by Wesley Matthews and Kyle Korver has made the team more complete. The tandem of Eric Bledsoe and George Hill provide the Bucks with two of the best defensive point guards in the league.

Despite the Bucks not drafting well they have built an elite team around Giannis. The shooting provided by their roster allows for Giannis to have more space when driving to the basket. The Bucks’ rotation consists of solid two way players allowing them to not rely too heavily on their offense because they can consistently get stops defensively.

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The Bucks will go as far as Giannis can take them and with a decent supporting cast, they are a well-balanced team with a bevy of scoring options. The construction of the Bucks’ roster proves that teams don’t have to draft well each year in order to become elite.