Five of the top six selections in the 2014 NBA Draft lottery landed with teams in the Eastern Conference, including the first four. More specifically the top three, also known as the expected landing spots for Duke's Jabari Parker and the Kansas duo of Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid.
Overall there will be a lot of talent headed to a conference that outside of the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers received more punchlines than praise over the past couple of seasons. That's also not the same as saying that the East will suddenly be loaded, but a few of the lottery teams could make a playoff push. Which ones and will any of them have enough to pass the Wizards, those are questions we’re looking at, starting with the Cavaliers and now, the Bucks.
What's working for them: It’s hard to believe but the Bucks were not among the tanking teams at the start of last season even though sure resembled one. If healthy, Larry Sanders with John Henson and Ersan Illyasova makes for a nice interior trio. Some believe that Giannis Antetokounmpo would be the top pick in a redo of the 2013 draft. The backcourt of O.J. Mayo and Brandon Knight is passable and more than that on some nights.
What's working against them: Allow me to make the obvious statement by noting the pieces didn’t fit last season. Everything about Sanders turning into a disaster didn’t help. The Bucks ranked 28th in scoring and 25th in points allowed. Aside from the No. 2 pick, there are no clear All-Star types on the roster.
What they should do at No. 2: On some level Parker makes for the ideal pick seeing as that he would immediately become Milwaukee’s top scoring threat. The fact that he hails from nearby Chicago can’t hurt from a local interest standpoint. That said, Wiggins is the ultimate side pick and the Bucks should be thinking long-term more than 2014-15. Combine his athletic gifts with the freaky Antetokounmpo and we’re talking must-see TV. The shot-blocking Sanders is signed through 2018 and nobody will take on that contract, making Embiid a poor fit. Current projection: Wiggins.
Could they jump the Wizards?: There is enough intriguing talent to imagine the Bucks rising up the Eastern Conference standings with good fortune and the most of those players making their own leap. That said, the veteran leadership is shaky and there are not enough sure things on a regular basis. Unless the local situation implodes, the Wizards shouldn’t fear Milwaukee bucking them out of the playoffs.