Oklahoma guard Buddy Hield (24) pumps his fist in the second half of an NCAA college basketball game against TCU in Norman, Okla., Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. Oklahoma won 67-60. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

Buddy Hield and the Bucks are a match made in heaven

It’s official: the 6’11” Greak Freak Giannis Antetokounmpo will be the Bucks starting point guard next year. And while that is incredibly exciting news, it’s not what I’m here to talk about. It does, however, affect many aspects of Milwaukee’s future. In the short term, it should have considerable influence on how the Bucks’ front office shapes next year’s roster.

There are plenty of question marks about this team heading into next season, especially at the point guard position. The Bucks never really got to see if trading for Greivis Vazquez was indeed the right move (I have my doubts) due to a bone spur removing surgery that has shelved him for most of the season. Vazquez, along with combo guards O.J. Mayo and Jerryd Bayless, are all set to be free agents come season’s end (Miles Plumlee and Steve Novak also have expiring contracts). It’s safe to say the Bucks don’t feel confident that they have a staring point guard between Michael Carter-Williams and Tyler Ennis, though they both have skill-sets to work with and Ennis has perked up of late.

Unless Milwaukee could trade Greg Monroe (another topic for another day), traditional logic would dictate drafting a point guard. I disagree. Jason Kidd naming Giannis next year’s point guard isn’t a knock on MCW and Ennis as much as an appraisal of Giannis’ unique playmaking skills. And with MCW and Ennis leading the bench units, the Bucks don’t necessarily need playmaking. They need shooting.

Enter Buddy Hield. If you haven’t heard, this Hield guy is pretty darn good at scoring the basketball. He just dropped 37 points in the Elite Eight against #1-seeded Oregon, which doesn’t happen all too often. In terms of volume and efficiency, Hield was the best 3-point shooter in all of college basketball this year, leading the nation in 3-point fields goal made (146), 3-point field goals made per game (4.06) and points scored (916). He managed these accomplishments all while shooting a blistering 47% from 3-point range, good for the highest percentage among those in the top-40 in attempts. Hield can play.

The Bucks are in dire need of Hield’s services, ranking second to last in the NBA in threes made per game. If the Bucks want to contend in the future, they will need to catch up to the league’s three-point revolution. Drafting Hield would give the Bucks much more spacing than they had with MCW or even Bayless on the court, and at 22, he’s mature enough to step right in and contribute in multiple ways. And with this shooting comes more spacing, which is exactly what Giannis and Jabari Parker need to be their most effective.

A starting lineup of Giannis/Hield/Middleton/Parker/Henson would have everything the Bucks really need except for a slight deficiency in rebounding. Hield is athletic and smart enough that between him, Middleton and Giannis, the Bucks could easily scheme to guard opposing point guards. And they would be a nightmare to defend on the other end.

There are certainly a few roadblocks in the way of this happening, so it might be a pipe dream. But if you’ll follow me for a bit longer, you’ll see why it’s definitely possible.

The mock drafts I looked at are all over the board in where they see Hield going, and even more inconsistent with whom they envision the Bucks drafting. Hield is projected to go as high as third on NBADraft.net, seventh on DraftExpress (in my opinion the most reputable source on scouting), fifth on thecornerthree, 12th and 9th on CBS (two different analysts), and seventh on HoopsHype, eigth on Andrew Sharp’s pre-tourney mock for Sports Illustrated. ESPN’s Chad Ford has him 5th on his big board. Several of these were published before the tournament, and Hield’s stock undoubtedly has risen since then. Interestingly though, USAToday has Hield going seventh, despite publishing the article earlier this week. Nobody seems to agree on where Hield will be taken.

These same mock drafts have the Bucks taking Ivan Rabb, Henry Ellenson (twice), Jaylen Brown, Jakob Poeltl (twice), Diamond Stone and Demetrius Jackson. Again, wildly inconsistent. There are merits to each player, particularly Poeltl, but that’s a different discussion. This is about the Bucks and Buddy Hield consummating their undeniable chemistry.

Sharp, a former Grantland writer, was told this quote by a scout: “One reason to believe that Buddy isn’t just having a fluke senior season is that he’s worked his ass off to develop a repeatable, ideal shooting form. It took him three years to get there, and I think what you see now will be what you’ll get in the NBA: someone who can reliably hit 3s from the wings and corners and give you instant offense off the bench. He’s also a relentlessly positive dude who has zero red flags in terms of character or work ethic.” Sharp thinks this doesn’t warrant a top-ten pick, but also neglects to mention Hield’s leadership qualities, defense and playmaking, all of which have improved immensely.

There are clearly a lot of question marks with all of this, but several things are clear: like last year, nobody has any real idea of who the Bucks will take. And players like Buddy don’t often go as high as they should. Look at Frank Kaminsky. Granted, Hield and Frank are very different players, but they were both the best player in college basketball, and the senior leader of a team that reached and/or exceeded very lofty expectations. And yet, they’re both still not perceived as being worth a pick in the tippy top of the draft. This works in the Bucks favor.

If you’re still with me, thanks for making it this far. I haven’t even gotten to the best part yet! We still don’t know where the Bucks will draft this summer. Anything could happen. As of this writing, Milwaukee has the eighth lowest winning percentage in the league. Just “ahead” of the Magic and Nuggets and just “behind” the Kings and Knicks, so there still could be some slight shifting in each direction. But the Bucks know as well as anyone that anything can happen with the NBA lottery.

In 2005 they had only a 6.3% chance of getting the first overall pick, and yet it happened. The Bucks don’t need the first overall pick to get Hield. But if the Bucks can lose a few more games, it’s anyone’s guess what will happen come this summer. Until then, just be patient. The Bucks should be a force in the East in the coming years. Fingers crossed it’s because Giannis is dishing Buddy Hield corner threes.

Photo courtesy of the AP.

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