by Troy A. Sparks
ST FRANCIS – When you see opposing young centers beat Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut down the floor and opponents driving the lane at will, the Bucks had to prevent that from happening again.
They were looking for speed, size and athleticism in this year’s draft, and they got what they needed.
The coaching staff and team management sat upstairs in one of the meeting rooms above the gym at the Bucks’ practice facility at the Cousins Center watching the draft on TV.
I was told that on Bucks’ Draft Days in the past, you couldn’t see the culprits through the window because the curtains were closed.
Around 6:37 p.m., NBA commissioner David Stern called John Wall’s name as the No. 1 overall draft pick to the Washington Wizards.
His college coach from Kentucky, John Calipari, was all smiles. The five players that
left were selected in the first round. That broke a record of several teams who had four players drafted in the first round from the same school.
My prediction had the Bucks picking Jordan Crawford from Xavier or A.J. Oglivy from Vanderbilt. You couldn’t go wrong with a backup guard or center.
After Houston picked Patrick Patterson, also from Kentucky at 14, some of the Bucks’ staff smiled and exchanged high-fives.
That was a priceless moment because the curtains were open.
Some of the media in attendance were surprised when it was announced that Larry Sanders was selected with the No. 15 pick.
I said to myself, “Who?” We got our answer from general manager John Hammond why the Bucks took him.
“I really classified him as something different than we have on our team right now,” he said. “He is probably one of the fastest big (man) in the draft and maybe one of the fastest players flat out in the draft. The guys’ speed from end line to end line is absolutely amazing for a guy his size.”
Sanders is expected to provide immediate help in the post and back up Bogut. He also provides insurance in case Bogut is injured again.
The Bucks like Sanders’ ability to block shots. Last year at Virginia Commonwealth, he averaged 2.6 blocks per game. That’s a compliment to Bogut, who was second in the NBA in blocks with 2.5 per game before he went down with 13 regular season games remaining.
Head coach Scott Skiles said Sanders has an imagination of scoring points in the paint. But that’s just an imagination. They got him for defense and to keep opponents out of the lane.
“People stop going in there when balls are being batted out of there,” Skiles said.
Skiles made it a point that Bogut casually blocked shots, but he didn’t have to jump that high. With Sanders’ athleticism and 7-foot-7 wingspan, he’ll swat a shot in the fifth row.
Sanders said in a conference call to the media after the announcement of his selection that he felt good about being a Buck. “I had a feeling and it came true,” Sanders said.
He’s ready to do what it takes to impress the coaching staff and get on the floor. “I think I can help right away,” he said. “I can start with practice and motivating my teammates and myself and try to push everybody and work hard. That right there can definitely be the start.”
Darington Hobson, from New Mexico, at No. 37, was an interesting pick. He can handle the ball and play both guard positions and small forward. Hammond and Skiles liked his court vision and his unselfishness. And at 6-7, Hobson can post up a smaller guard.
“He really is a very, very unselfish player and plays the game,” Hammond said. “If he’s asked to score, I think he’s capable of it. He’s a guy that’s very, very good at putting the ball on the floor and a very, very good passer. He has great vision.”
Hammons said Hobson must improve his outside shooting. Forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute was the last No. 37 pick for the Bucks two years ago.
Tulsa’s Jerome Jordan was the 44th selection for the Bucks. That pick was given to them when they got forward Corey Maggette from Golden State after they sent Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzuric to that team. Maggette is a proven scorer and insurance in case John Salmons signs with another team.
Keith “Tiny” Gallon, from Oklahoma, at No. 47, was a high school teammate of Brandon Jennings. Milwaukee may not keep him or Jordan.
I think more trades are forthcoming. The Bucks picked up Chris Douglas-Roberts from New Jersey and sent them a 2012 second round pick. Gallon may be shipped to Jersey. Jordan is headed to New York. So they can send Gallon to the NBA’s worst team where they sent Bobby Simmons and Yi Jianlian. The Bucks got rid of both of those underachieving scrubs.
All this wheeling and dealing is supposed to put the Bucks in position to go past the first round of the playoffs.
I’m also happy that Marquette’s Lazar Hayward was the last player picked in the first round by Washington. His rights were traded to Minnesota. He deserves everything he worked hard for. That dude is as genuine as you can find in a humble young man.
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