2021 is going to be an incredibly important year for the Milwaukee Bucks. Following a disappointing second-round exit at the hands of the Miami Heat, it’s clear that the clock is ticking in Milwaukee. With superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo in the final year of his contract and coach Mike Budenholzer likely on the hot seat, the team needs everything it takes to ensure success next year. There’s no doubt that nailing this draft is crucial for the Bucks.
The Heat exposed a number of flaws within the Bucks lineup, namely a lack of shooting, perimeter defense, and playmaking. There isn’t anyone beyond Khris Middleton who can effectively knock down tough shots while simultaneously being able to defend at a high level. Furthermore, Eric Bledsoe‘s playoff struggles running the point have become a playoff tradition of sorts, forcing Antetokounmpo to handle the ball far more than he should. If they do not address these problems, the Bucks are destined for yet another early playoff exit.
Two Potential Milwaukee Bucks Draftees
In the 2020 NBA Draft, the Bucks hold the 24th overall pick. Since this is considered one of the weakest drafts classes yet, there probably won’t be too many high-ceiling prospects available. However, there are a number of prospects likely to be available who could contribute right away to the Bucks’ struggles.
1. Tyrell Terry
This draft has a plethora of above-average point guards, so it’s hard to project where Tyrell Terry will get drafted. Nonetheless, he’s a top 10 draft prospect in my eyes, and I think that he would fit perfectly on the Bucks.
In short, Terry is an elite shooter. He took a whopping 152 three-pointers in the limited NCAA season, with an accuracy of 40.2 percent overall. More impressively, he shot 89.1 percent from the charity stripe. Since free-throw percentage is highly correlated with NBA three-point success, this bodes well for Terry’s shooting in the NBA.
Additionally, his shooting portfolio is very diverse. He is absolutely lethal running off screens, and this is illustrated by his mind-boggling 48 percent accuracy on catch-and-shoot threes. He’s also very shifty off the dribble, and he can create his own long-range shot very well. Rather than leave him open as the Heat often did to Bledsoe, defenders would have to heavily guard Terry, thereby creating space for Antetokounmpo.
Here are all 11 of Tyrell Terry's 3 attempts from his 2nd game vs. Utah. Sure, it was his best shooting performance from last season (7/11) but think it highlights his shot versatility (off movement, pull up, catch & shoot) pic.twitter.com/qSjWJN7P9Y
— NBA Draft Scouting (@KnicksDraftGuy) June 5, 2020
Not only does Terry have an insane range, but he can also orchestrate an offense and play defense at a high level. He possesses an unparalleled feel for the game, and his passing fundamentals are strong. He’s shown an ability to make advanced passes, especially to the shooters surrounding him at Stanford, so that skill could be key to opening up Budenholzer’s offense.
On defense, Terry shows a competitive spirit and high motor. He has an outstanding defense rating of 88.3, and he has proven to be a defensive threat with a 2.5 steal percentage. One important thing to note, however, is that guards as small as Terry (6’1) often have trouble on defense. Despite this, Terry’s defensive motor should ensure that he is not a defensive liability.
Tyrell Terry would be an intriguing addition to the Bucks’ thin point guard depth. He’s an incredible shooter, and his presence could potentially alleviate the Bucks’ spacing problems. Overall, the Stanford one-and-done can contribute to each of the team’s areas of needs, and he should be one of their highest-rated prospects.
2. Xavier Tillman
Tillman is perhaps the best wing playmaker of the draft. He can make quick reads at any time, and his pinpoint passing can break apart defenses. Tillman’s ball-handling and creativity are very rare for a 6’8″ forward, and Budenholzer could leverage him into defensive mismatches. As seen from this year’s playoffs, centers like Bam Adebayo, P.J. Tucker, and Marc Gasol who can beat you with the pass are extremely valuable. By identifying problems on the run and making smart, effective passes, “stretch five” passers are able to bridge both ends of the court.
Tillman’s versatility and court vision are near the levels of the aforementioned players’ levels, so it’s not a stretch to say that he could become the next great stretch 5. Given that Adebayo’s incredible defensive pressure on Antetokounmpo caused many of Milwaukee’s problems, Tillman could counteract similar threats to ensure that Antetokounmpo is optimized to the fullest extent.
In addition to Xavier Tillman being a high level finisher w/nice touch, he's also an elite passing big man – yes, elite (at least at a college level).
– short roll passess
– passes off drives/dribbles
– processes the court really quickly, leading to quick decisions/passes pic.twitter.com/yhWL7nTdUo
— Spencer (@SKPearlman) March 15, 2020
Tillman’s defense is similarly incredible. He ranked fifth nationally at Michigan State with a defensive rating of 80.8, with the four players above him having below-average free throw percentages. He’s a force in the paint, as seen by his 6.9 block percentage and 23.9 defensive rebounding percentage. However, Tillman’s defensive versatility and strong frame give him the potential to guard every single position. He could switch on the perimeter or defend the post without much hesitation. In general, Tillman’s impressive technique, off-ball defense, and feel for the game give him a very high defensive ceiling.
Tillman is not a knock-down shooter, but he still brings some intriguing skills to the table. His game is reminiscent of overlooked, undersized big men like PJ Tucker, Adebayo, and of course Draymond Green. His fantastic passing and defense could try to unlock a version of Antetokounmpo that we’ve never seen before. This late in the draft, that’s something that could be worth attempting for the Bucks. Overall, this pick may be a reach, but Tillman has the potential to raise the Bucks’ ceiling long-term. In ten years, we could be calling him the steal of the draft. Bucks management should certainly consider if they want to draft him.
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