ST. FRANCIS, Wis. — A year ago, draft night was fairly simple for the Milwaukee Bucks. Sitting with the No. 2 overall pick, they knew they were going to land Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker.
It is a completely different process this time around.
After a surprising run to the playoffs this past season, the Bucks find themselves picking No. 17 in Thursday night’s NBA Draft. If Milwaukee doesn’t trade up, it will be the latest it makes its first selection since 2006 when it didn’t have a first-round pick. It would also mark the latest the Bucks have picked in the first round since 1991.
General manager John Hammond and his scouting staff have spent the past few days narrowing their draft board for the 17th pick down to four or five players.
"We’ve been dabbling with it the last few weeks," Hammond said. "But now we will really get our heads together and say we are done with the process with the exception of maybe another phone interview.
"So we kind of sit down and look for our grouping of four to five players. It could change (Tuesday). It could change on Wednesday. It is that fluid."
Through the draft, free agency or trades, the Bucks are looking to add shooting, size and physicality to their roster.
If Milwaukee opts to add a shooter in the draft, Georgia State’s R.J. Hunter or Virginia’s Justin Anderson could be the pick, as both recently worked out for team officials at the Orthopaedic Hospital of Wisconsin Training Center.
"With the 3-point shot and the value of that, that’s (a big) part of the game," Hammond said. "I don’t think any of the 30 teams wouldn’t say they could use more shooting. We’re one of those teams."
Of the power forwards the Bucks have worked out, Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell would add physicality. UCLA’s Kevon Looney is raw but would add size and rebounding ability, while Arkansas’ Bobby Portis is an intriguing prospect as a 6-foot-11 stretch four.
Other potential first-round picks the Bucks had in for workouts include Notre Dame point guard Jerian Grant, Arizona small forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, UNLV shooting guard Rashad Vaughn and Louisville point guard Terry Rozier.
"I think it’s a good draft," Hammond said. "We feel good at 17. You hope you can maybe get a rotation player. Sometimes in that range you can get a little lucky, maybe get a starter in a bit. Hopefully it’s a keeper piece and a player that can be a contributor."
While the Bucks have stood pat the past few years, Hammond has been no stranger to moving up or down in the first round during his tenure as general manager.
In 2012, Hammond swapped the No. 12 pick for the No. 14 pick in a four-player deal with Houston. The Rockets took guard Jeremy Lamb, while the Bucks wound up with center John Henson two picks later.
A three-team trade in 2011 sent guard Jimmer Fredette (No. 10 overall pick) to Charlotte, while Milwaukee acquired forward Tobias Harris (No. 19 pick).
Throughout the week, rumors of teams looking to trade out of the lottery have swirled through numerous different reports. However, Hammond feels it would be extremely difficult for the Bucks to jump up into the top 10.
"I have no idea what’s going to happen leading up to the draft," Hammond said. "There’s always going to be rumors, always discussions about people willing to move picks, wanting to move picks. At the end of the day, we’ll see how that really happens. I think you get into that top 10 range or top 5 range, it’s difficult to pull that trigger, to move a pick like that.
"For us at 17 we are who we are. We’re always going to look to keep our options open, seeing if there’s someone who can improve our team, improve our team with that 17th pick, improve our team by maybe moving up in the draft, moving down. Whatever it might be, but we’ll always keep our options open."
The Bucks also hold the No. 46 overall pick in Thursday’s draft, but Milwaukee’s approach to its second-round choice could be different this season due to a lack of roster space.
French center Mouhammadou Jaiteh, North Carolina guard/forward J.P. Tokoto, Turkish forward Cedi Osman, UNLV power forward Christian Wood, Boston College guard Olivier Hanlan and Massachusetts center Cady Lalanne are among projected second-round picks to have worked out for the Bucks.
"Roster spots are an issue for us," Hammond said. "At 46 maybe there’s an opportunity there’s an international player we could draft that would have an interest in staying overseas for a couple of years. Maybe we move the pick. There are all kinds of opportunities we will be looking to explore with 46."