With John Hammond on the way out and assumed General Manager in-waiting Justin Zanik on his way into the role, Milwaukee Bucks fans have some time to reflect on the past 10 years.
There have been many ups, accompanied by a lot more downs; including the selling of the franchise to a new ownership group, construction on a new arena and many players and coaches coming and going. But there has been one constant: John Hammond, the now ex-General Manager. As he transitions out of the Bucks’ organization and down to Orlando, we take a look at his three best and worst deals of his tenure.
We start with the bad.
3. Letting go of Jared Dudley
Are there far worse deals that have been made and/or far worse players signed for far too much money in the past few years? Sure. But one of the biggest factors of the turnaround that lead the 2014-2015 Milwaukee Bucks back to the playoffs in a competitive series against the Chicago Bulls was the glue that was Jared Dudley. Combined with OJ Mayo on the bench, the two provided sparks.
When Dudley was traded away to the Washington Wizards for seemingly nothing after what had been a stellar year in Milwaukee, the team looked lost. In the 2015-2016 season, the Milwaukee Bucks flopped, partly due to the loss of their glue guy, Jared Dudley.
2. Trading Andrew Bogut for mediocrity
At first, this trade seemed like the right move and almost seemed like a steal. Andrew Bogut was injured most of the time while Larry Sanders slowly carved out more and more minutes at the center position. Stephen Jackson did not want to play for Milwaukee anymore and Monta Ellis was thought to be an all-star level guard. For the 2012 Milwaukee Bucks, this made sense.
What it did not make sense for was the future Milwaukee Bucks teams. The 2012 team was only able to scrap out an eight seed and got destroyed by the Miami Heat in the first round getting easily swept. Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis never were able to mesh on the court and the future that Hammond saw for the two never materialized.
Getting the eight seed did produce the now infamous chant and slogan loved by fans everywhere. #BucksInSix
1. Wasting the Eighth pick in 2008
Not much to say here. Except for the fact that Joe Alexander plays the guitar better than he plays basketball. The funny thing is that he is awful at both.
Now, we can end on some happier thoughts.
3. Brandon Jennings picked 10th in the 2009 draft
Brandon Jennings appears later on this list, but that move wouldn’t have been able to be made had Hammond not pulled the trigger on drafting Jennings.
Looking back, this pick was high risk as he struggled making the move from high school basketball to professional league play in Europe. No one really knew if Jennings had NBA ability. But shortly after his rookie season began, Hammond was proven right on his pick.
And that is why picking Jennings was so big for this franchise. He made basketball in Milwaukee fun again and worth watching. His rookie year was full of highlights and fake behind the back passes turned layups. He made things interesting and proved value.
2.Trading Brandon Jennings for the future
Jennings’s value didn’t just come in the form of points either. In the summer of 2013, Jennings was shipped off to Detroit for two very unproven players in the form of Khris Middleton and Brandon Knight.
Let’s just compare some things right now. Middleton averaged about 20 points per game in 2017 while Jennings averaged less than 10. Middleton is the core of a big three for the Milwaukee Bucks, while Jennings comes off of the bench for the Wizards (albeit, a very effective bench scorer).
Knight was traded to the Suns in 2015 for Micheal Carter-Williams and Mason Plumlee. At first that trade seemed doomed to be failure, but then in 2016, Hammond swapped Carter-Williams for Tony Snell, who in the second half of the season developed into one of the most deadly three point shooters in the NBA.
Thank you Hammond, thank you Jennings.
1. Picking Giannis
With the 15th pick in the 2013 draft, the Milwaukee Bucks picked Giannis Antetokounmpo. *Wait, 14 teams passed on the Greek Freak?* Why yes, yes they did.
No one in the NBA, in any front offices (probably even Hammond and the Bucks) knew what to make of a 6 foot 8 inch, lanky, skinny kid who just picked up a basketball two years prior. No one knew if he would even last the season, let alone become the next in line to Lebron’s throne.
This pick defines Hammond’s time with the Milwaukee Bucks. Risk. And with the small market that is Milwaukee, that is the only strategy that may work.
Cheers to John Hammond, the good, the bad, the risky.