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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Draft Lottery Puts Bucks In Ominous Position

Eighth overall pick a familiar crapshoot
So, in a two-horse race, those underachieving Chicago Bulls won the top pick in the 2008 NBA Draft and the mysteriously bad Miami Heat secured the #2 pick. That sets up a dream combo for each team of getting an immediate impact player that also happens to patch a major hole in the roster. Michael Beasley can fill the void of interior scoring and muscle that has been lacking for years in Chicago. With the second pick, Miami can give Dwyane Wade a dream backcourt running mate in Derrick Rose who will also defer to Wade at crunch time.

When the smoke cleared Tuesday night at the draft lottery, Milwaukee was left holding the #8 pick, one slot lower than anticipated based on the team's record. General manager John Hammond should know what to expect out of that spot: it will not be a superstar player. The 8-hole should sound vaguely memorable to Bucks fans, as the team has drafted from that sport three other times in the last 16 years with mixed results. Twice when Milwaukee has selected eighth, it got talented but mediocre players who were both shipped out of town very early in their careers, either due to injury (T.J. Ford, 2003) or simply being squeezed out of the lineup (Todd Day, 1992). It is interesting to note, however, that the only All-Star drafted from the 8th position in the last 20 years (Vin Baker) was back in 1993 by Milwaukee.

Besides Baker, Andre Miller (1999) has been a borderline star throughout his career, including a career-best scoring average this past season in Philly, but he has also made many stops around the league over the last decade. Rudy Gay appeared to make major strides in his second season and may soon join Baker, Miller and Rex Chapman at the head of the class for #8 picks.

Expanding the search to all players picked between seventh and ninth over the last 20 years might raise your hopes a tad. Including Baker, seven of those players have either been selected to at least one All-Star team or named Rookie of the Year (Damon Stoudamire, 1995). Luol Deng and Andre Iguodala figure to add to that list in the near future. Other players like Miller, Gay, Brian Grant, Jamal Crawford and Rony Seikaly have been solid contributors originating from picks seven through nine. So in 20 years, I count 15 successful picks out of a possible 60 from that general area, mostly due to a lot of talent from the ninth slot. So the Bucks have a 25% of landing a legit NBA player from that position.

Some mock drafts are still projecting Eric Gordon as Milwaukee's selection while sees the Bucks taking another tall, skinny foreigner. Yikes. At, Kevin Love is the pick, although the foreignor was the consensus #8 acccording to their collection of the web's numerous mock drafts.

The Sporting News likes Gordon at that spot too, but Sam Smith sees trade possibilities lining up better for the Bucks. The trade angle would not be surprising, as Milwaukee has seemingly done everything in its power to avoid making mistakes in the draft by giving away its draft picks. In the nine drafts since the Dirk Nowitzki trade of 1998, Milwaukee has only made five first-round selections and in 2004, the Bucks had no picks at all.

In other draft-related fun, has gone all the way back to the mid-1980s to rank the top picks from the entire lottery era. For what it's worth, Detlef Schrempf edges Ron Harper as the greatest #8 pick of the lottery era.

This South Florida Sun-Sentinel article could have been an interesting behind-the-scenes account of draft lotto. Instead I was left completely baffled. The story describes the ping pong process tension without explaining how it works. Thus, I had to snoop around to refresh myself on how the ping pong ball combinations do their magic.

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