With an NBA lockout closing in, I'll be happy to ignore pro basketball for as long as humanly possible, but first we have to take a look at how the Bucks fared with their two draft choices Thursday night. After a rather notable trade that left the Bucks better off in many ways, they were still left with just one true shooting guard on the roster in Stephen Jackson. However, my instincts served me well for once and Milwaukee chose a combo forward - Tobias Harris out of Tennessee. Sure, there may have been better players left on the board...and in my opinion, there were a few...but the Bucks liked what they saw in Harris during the pre-draft workouts in Milwaukee and news on the street was that unless a Morris twin or someone else plummeted Aaron Rodgers-style to 19, the former Volunteer would become a Buck. Harris is considered to be more of a hybrid between small forward and power forward, which is what I deemed Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Ersan Ilyasova to be in my last post. In the second round, the Bucks chose (power?) forward Jon Leuer out of close-by Wisconsin-Madison much to the delight of Badger fans (and myself). Therefore, the Bucks now have four point guards, one true shooting guard, eight forwards and one true center. Hmmm...we seem to have the same problem prior to last season; too many forwards on the team. Not only that, but the Bucks will have to ditch a point guard or two, perhaps in favor of another shooting guard.
It also currently leaves Milwaukee with 14 players on their roster. That problem will solve itself over time, but for now let's evaluate the draft picks of Milwaukee. Obviously, we can't get too far in depth with the judging process for these two selections because we haven't even seen them put on a Bucks' uniform, but we can go off how we expect them to fit in with Milwaukee as well as their performance in college. What excites me about Harris is that he is extremely young and therefore has plenty of room for improvement. Perhaps if he had stayed in school for a few more years, Harris would've been selected higher in the future, but he decided to come out after his freshman season. More than likely, Harris will play the three but has the ability to play the four should the Bucks decide to go small from time to time. He should be able to handle this well because of how versatile of a player he is and he has room to get bigger even though he is already 226 pounds...he was around 210 at season's end. By playing with many score-first minded players at Tennessee, he showed that he is willing to let the game come to him, but when he does he can surprise people with his quickness. Harris averaged 15 and 7 as a freshman and although he struggled with his jump shot, he has good form which leads me to believe that he could develop a decent outside game as well. All in all, I can't complain with the selection of Tobias Harris and I'm excited to see how he fits in with the Bucks next season.
Someone who might not get to see how he fits in with the Bucks next season is Jon Leuer, who unlike Harris stayed all four years in school. Leuer improved his game each year at Wisconsin, and by getting to watch him up close many times can tell that he still has a ways to go if he wants to become a mainstay in the NBA. One thing that will play to Leuer's advantage is that at 6'11", he has a guard skill set because of how much he grew during his time in high school. Leuer can work outside and inside because of this skill set and his size, making him versatile like Harris. With the Bucks' struggles to score and shoot efficiently last season, picking versatile players like Harris and Leuer probably isn't a bad idea. The problem with Leuer is that even though he bulked up quite a bit during college, he still has to get a lot bigger to face the size he will be expected to face at the next level. He's also not someone who's going to fool you, so Leuer will have to add more to his game...which he'll get a chance to do when he starts the season in the NBA Developmental League. Probably. Trust me. I want to see Leuer suit up for the Bucks just as badly as any other Badger/Buck fan, but I think he has a lot farther to go than Harris. My hope is that he gets there sooner rather than later. So of course I like this pick...a guy I got to see play college ball for my favorite college team gets to play for my favorite pro team.
Draft Grade: B+ .. whatever that means
2011-2012: Harris - Backup forward, Leuer - D League, eventual call-up
Moves needed: Trade/release Keyon Dooling AND/OR Shaun Livingston, acquire 2-guard
We now move from the hard court to the diamond where the Milwaukee Brewers seem to have used their day-off on Thursday to get their s--- together. The Brewers have taken the first two games of their series against the Twins, which is especially satisfying because the Twins enjoy completely owning the Brew Crew year after year in interleague play. By winning the series, the Brewers are now 4-4 in interleague play, although another difficult stretch is upcoming as they have to travel to New York and Minnesota next week to close out play against the American League. Because I'm attending the ballgame at Miller Park tomorrow, I'm tempted to bring along a broom; I'll have to refrain...that would guarantee victory for the Twinkies. I'll save busting out the broom for when my place needs a good cleaning...which is always.
Thanks to a St. Louis Cardinals' two-game losing streak, the Crew has stretched their division lead to two games and three games over the Cincinnati Reds and...wait for it...the Pittsburgh Pirates. This helps support the belief that good pitching helps you hang around for awhile and even though the Pirates have been fun to laugh at over the years, it's nice to see that fan base become hopeful again. And that's the difference between my feelings towards Cubs fans and everyone else's fans. Despite the feel-good story of the Pirates recently, I'd still prefer that the Brewers win the division. They can feel free to stick around for awhile...hell, they can even take the Wild Card if they want...but that's it. Now back to the Brewers. Even though the Twins had been on such a roll before they came to Milwaukee, they have several key players on the disabled list, including Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel, Denard Span and now Delmon Young after an ugly play out in left field on Yuni B's inside the park homer. I think it was only a matter of time before the Twins started to play at the level they should with their current lineup. Luckily, it happened right before this series and the Brewers have capitalized, winning a thriller last night and taking game two tonight by the largest margin of victory the Crew has had all season.
It's been difficult to figure out this team, especially the bullpen, which appears to have figured things out again. I think the day off helped that unit the most from the looks of it. In the two games against the Twins, the Brewers' 'pen hasn't given up a run. Dare I say it, but Kameron Loe has been solid in his last couple outings and of course, the Ax Man continues to make his case for a spot on the NL All-Star team. A good outing from Chris Narveson tomorrow would make it a good last couple starts for the starting five with the exception of Shaun Marcum, who is clearly battling out there with his hip injury. Because of his personal bid at becoming an all-star, it would be great to see Marcum return to form...if this means the Brewers have to take a hit and have Marcum miss a start, so be it. With the off day Thursday and another day-off upcoming, the extra rest should help either way. Otherwise, everything is back to normal and the Brewers have given themselves some breathing room before heading out east to the (new) Cathedral of Baseball. I'll try my best to bring home a W on Sunday.