When the Milwaukee Bucks officials conducted an extensive interview with Will Barton at last week’s NBA pre-draft combine in Chicago, they may have revealed one of their goals heading into the June 28 draft.
“They told me they could use a big guard like me,” Barton said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Indeed, while the Bucks have one of the most explosive backcourts in the league with Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings, both players are also undersized by NBA standards. Ellis stands 6-foot-3 and Jennings is 6-1.
Barton, who attended Memphis, was measured at 6-5 without shoes and 6-6 with shoes at the combine and is one of a spate of enticing big guards in this year’s draft.
Heading the bumper crop of shooting guards is 6-5 Brad Beal of Florida, a sure-fire top five pick. Connecticut’s 6-5 Jeremy Lamb, Syracuse’s 6-4 Dion Waiters and Duke’s 6-5 Austin Rivers are projected lottery picks.
There are also several other big guards who could be drafted in the middle to late first round, including 6-7 Terrence Ross of Washington, 6-7 Evan Fournier of France and Barton.
While Barton and Fournier haven’t received the notoriety of the other highly-rated big guards, they are nevertheless entringing prospects and could wind up being late first-round picks.
Barton showed his offensive capabilities by averaging 18 points a game and shooting 51 percent from the field last season as a sophomore.
Defensively, Barton has the potential to be a menace. At the combine, his wing span was measured at 6-9¾.
As for Fournier, he possesses a silky smooth game and is equally capable of shooting a deep 3 or taking it to the hole. The Frenchman is also an adept passer.
If that isn’t enough, he’s just 19 years old.
“He’s very underrated,” said Bouna Ndiaye, Fournier’s agent. “He reminds of Manu Ginobili. He’s aggressive, he’s got real good vision and he’s a real good scorer.
The Bucks will get a better handle on Fournier and Barton on Saturday. That’s when Fournier and Barton will work out the Cousins Center in front of a battery of Bucks officials.
n Saturday’s workout had the earmarks of being an extraordinary one.
Lamb, Ross and Waiters were once scheduled to partake in the workout as well.
But Lamb sprained an ankle during a workout in Toronto Thursday and canceled his workout with the Bucks; Waiters has shut down all workouts after having received a draft “promise”, presumably from Phoenix, and Ross canceled his appearance for unknown reasons.
There is a reasonably good chance Lamb will still work out for the Bucks, possibly as soon as next week.
One other big guard who’ll audition for the Bucks today is Ramone Moore, a 6-4 guard with a 6-9 wing span from Temple. Moore wasn’t invited to the recent pre-draft combine but has piqued the interest of several teams, including Houston and Philadelphia.
n Rivers said at the pre-draft camp that he wasn’t sure whether he would work out for the Bucks. It now seems highly unlikely that he will.
QUICK HITS: Among the draft’s risers are Duke center Mason Plumlee, now a legitimate first-round candidate; St. John’s small forward Moe Harkless, who could now go in the teens, and Syracuse center Fab Melo, who has impressed teams with his athleticism and is now a solid late first-round selection. Among the sliders are Ohio State power forward Jared Sullinger who has some NBA personnel concerned about his back issues, and Baylor power forward Perry Jones, whose perceived passive, non-aggressive manner has turned off several teams. At one time, both Jones and Sullinger were considered locks to be top 10 picks. That isn’t the case anymore. ... Boston, Houston, Portland, Memphis and Oklahoma City are definitely open to trading their picks. … The Bucks have yet to have any in-depth discussions with Bill Duffy about extending Brandon Jennings’ contract. Duffy represents the Bucks’ starting point guard.