The 2010 SB Nation NBA Mock Draft is still(!) underway, with each SB Nation blogger making selections for their respective teams. Frank Madden from Brew Hoop, SB Nation's Milwaukee Bucks blog, checks in to make the fifteenth overall selection in this year's mock.
With the fifteenth overall pick in the 2010 SB Nation NBA Mock Draft, the Milwaukee Bucks have selected Ekpe Udoh, forward-center, Baylor Bears.
Madden explains: After stealing Brandon Jennings 10th overall in 2009, the Bucks will understandably be hard-pressed to provide an encore on Thursday, particularly from their position in the middle of the first round. But the good news is that the draft does seem reasonably deep, particularly among scoring wings and athletic big men, which also happen to be the Bucks' two most obvious positions of need. Having worked out a slew of prospects both big and small, the Bucks could go either direction at this point and there's a good chance one of the supposed lottery locks falls into their laps. With Paul George and Patrick Patterson off the board, the guy who falls in this mock draft is Udoh, who along with Wesley Johnson ranks as the elder statesmen of lottery hopefuls.
Udoh is admittedly a safe and fairly uninspiring pick, the kind of guy far more likely to become the workman-like fan favorite than the jersey-selling cornerstone. On paper he's about the least sexy pick you could imagine: 23 years old, doesn't score much, was garbage at Michigan before transferring to Baylor. And we haven't even mentioned his downright alarming physical resemblance to the inimitable Calvin Booth (red flag!). But he also feels like a reliable, solid value at #15, especially given most mock drafts have been pegging him in the 8-13 range for some time. Those mock drafts could also be horribly overrating him, and it's not lost on me that old players tend to be draft land mines. Still, I'll give the "professionals" the benefit of the doubt, especially considering a) how well Udoh fits the Bucks' roster and b) the front office's predisposition for players who can contribute immediately (Exhibits A and B: Joe Alexander and Jodie Meeks).
Overall, Udoh should provide much-needed depth at both big positions while bringing the sort of complementary skills that can help a veteran team looking to win now. Though his scoring efficiency was notably poor for a man of his size, Udoh also relied more on post and isolation chances than the draft's other bigs, showing off a solid face-up game and a surprising ability to create for teammates as well. Add in his potential as a defender and you have an excellent foil for Andrew Bogut and a nice complement to the Bucks' smallish power forward platoon of Luc Mbah a Moute and Ersan Ilyasova.
That said, Udoh's fairly low ceiling means he's hardly a no-brainer. Among wings, Gordon Hayward has long been rumored to be on the Bucks' short list, while Luke Babbitt is the only target to have made two visits to Milwaukee. Though clearly skilled, Hayward's lack of strength and explosiveness continues to worry me, while Babbitt's incredible scoring skills come with the unanswered question of whether he can defend small forwards after playing mostly as a finesse PF at Nevada. James Anderson's scoring prowess could also provide an immediate boost, but if his scoring doesn't translate then he doesn't really do anything else of value. The Bucks should know all about that problem after watching Meeks struggle to find his rhythm last year. As for the big men, Larry Sanders, Kevin Seraphin and Hassan Whiteside could all eventually develop into much better pros than Udoh, but it will probably take time and the Bucks claimed last week that they would only consider Sanders if they traded down.
Ridiculous Upside reacts: I'm an advocate of best player available, especially when the big man options behind Andrew Bogut include Dan Gadzuric, Ersan Ilyasova, Primoz Brezec, Kurt Thomas, Darnell Jackson and Luc RIchard Mbah a Moute (though a few of them won't be resigned for next year - I hope).
Ridiculous Upside's Top 5 remaining prospects: 1 - Luke Babbitt, F, Nevada. 2 - Hassan Whiteside, PF/C, Marshall. 3 - Gordon Hayward, SF, Butler. 4 - James Anderson, SG, Oklahoma State. 5 - Damion James, SF, Texas.
Sound off, SB Nation! What say you of the Udoh-to-Milwaukee pick?