Worst and Best Draft Day Moves by the Milwaukee Bucks: Part One
For the Milwaukee Bucks, the 2019-20 season started out better than anyone could have imagined. The time to win is now for the cream and green, and they will look to add another piece for a championship run in what could end up being Giannis’s last year in Milwaukee.
While the team will obviously not have a lottery pick, they do hold Indiana’s first round pick thanks to the Malcolm Brogdon sign-and-trade last offseason. With that pick slated to be in the late teens/early twenties, the Bucks certainly have a chance to add an impact player.
Throughout the history of the franchise, there have been several selections the Bucks have absolutely hit on, while they have swung and missed on many others. Let’s take a look at Part One of this two part series: The Worst Draft Day Moves by the Milwaukee Bucks.
10. – Rashad Vaughn, 2015 Draft, #17
Just outside of the lottery, there is no guarantee you will get an exceptional player at number 17. But the Bucks thought they might hit on Vaughn. A young player out of UNLV, Vaughn was seen as a pure shooter but also a project who had to develop. The Bucks could have taken role players like Bobby Portis, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, or Larry Nance Jr. Instead, they went for the young Runnin’ Rebel in hopes he would have a Jason Terry type career. Needless to say, it didn’t happen.
9. – T.J. Ford, 2003 Draft, #8
It is hard to fault the Bucks for taking Ford. He was a good looking prospect out of Texas and the team needed a point guard to replace Sam Cassell. When Ford was on the floor he was good, but that was the issue. Injuries plagued the guard, especially a serious back injury suffered early in his career. The 2003 NBA Draft will always be remembered, but unfortunately for Ford and the Bucks, it is one to look past.
8. – Shawn Respert, 1995 Draft, #11
The Bucks initially drafted Gary Trent with the 11th pick, and traded him to Portland for the Michigan State product. But Respert would not live up to the career he had in college. Lasting just a year and a half in Milwaukee and four years in the league, it was a tough pick for the Bucks considering they brought in Glenn Robinson and Ray Allen in the years between this pick. There weren’t exactly a lot of good players they passed on, but still many that had more serviceable careers than Respert.
7. – Marcus Haislip, 2002 Draft, #13
Haislip was viewed as a solid prospect out of Tennessee but was a true bust. He only played two years for the Bucks barely cracking the rotation. He would score just 311 points in his NBA career before going to play overseas. In an era where the Bucks would transition from Ray Allen, they needed to hit on this pick. Of course, the entire 2002 NBA Draft was pretty weak, so the Bucks were not the only team here that swung and missed.
6. – Todd Day, 1992 Draft, #8
Day certainly did not have one of the worst careers on this list. In fact, he averaged sixteen points per game in his third season in Milwaukee. But the next season he would be traded and never produced the same type of play. Players like Robert Horry and Doug Christie would have been better picks in hindsight. Again Day was not the worst, but certainly was not a top ten pick.
5. – Jabari Parker, 2014 Draft, #2
Parker probably had the most theoretical talent on this list. In 2014, he and number one overall pick Andrew Wiggins were seen as can’t miss prospects. Of course, things may have been different had Parker not torn his ACL early in his rookie season and again years later. But even when he returned from his second injury it was clear the Bucks had developed without him and he was not a fit on the team. Again, a lot of players could have been taken instead of Parker in hindsight. But most notably would be Joel Embiid, selected by the 76ers one pick later.
4. – Yi Jianlian, 2007 Draft, #6
Yi showed flashes in his rookie year, and even had a 29 & 10 game in December. But it was clear he didn’t belong in the league, especially to the Bucks who got rid of him after just that rookie season in Milwaukee. He would last just four more years in the association, and this draft is one of the reasons the Bucks struggled so much in the 2000s. No one spectacular was passed up on here, but they could’ve had serviceable years from guys like Joakim Noah, Thaddeus Young, or Corey Brewer.
3. – Kent Benson, 1977 Draft, #1
This pick certainly could be at one or two on this list. Benson had an outstanding college career at Indiana, but it just didn’t translate to the NBA. He flamed out quickly in Milwaukee and although he had some serviceable seasons in Detroit, Benson did not come close to living up to the top pick in the draft, and was a thorough bust. Thankfully the Bucks also had the third pick in this draft and selected Marques Johnson.
2. – Joe Alexander – 2008 Draft, #8
Bucks fans from the ‘70s and ‘80s may have Benson in this spot instead, but as a kid who suffered through watching the Bucks in the 2000s, I place it at number two because this pick was brutal. Alexander played 67 games in the NBA, not exactly what you want to see from an eighth pick. He was a good player at West Virginia but was absolutely no match for the NBA for various reasons. There are not many top ten selections in this league over the last two decades that have gone worse than this one.
1. – Bucks select Dirk Nowitzki but trade him to Dallas for Robert Traylor, 1998 Draft, #9
As I mentioned earlier, this list consists of draft day moves and not just picks, and this one is one of the worst in NBA history. This trade may have been in the works before the draft but it stings for Bucks fans every time they hear they were the team to actually select Dirk at number nine overall. The late Tractor Traylor played for a few years, but was not worth the pick. Imagine how different the 2000s would have been in Milwaukee with Dirk. It is a move that changed the entire landscape of the NBA for almost two decades. Unfortunately for Bucks fans, they were on the losing end of it.
Statistics Courtesy of Basketball Reference