Even by this season’s standards, things are really bad for the Milwaukee Bucks.
Unlike many teams that entered the season primed to lose and lose often in an effort to get a high draft pick, the Bucks were trying to win. They had an NBA Defensive Player of the Year hopeful in Larry Sanders, a few promising young pieces like Giannis Antetokounmpo and some veteran role players like Caron Butler. In a dilapidated Eastern Conference, they seemed a surefire playoff team.
It hasn’t worked out that way. After Monday’s loss to the Boston Celtics, the Bucks are 9-42, owners of by far the worst record in the NBA. If the season ended today, they would have a 25 percent chance of securing the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA draft.
And they’ve managed to do this without tanking.
Celtics play-by-play voice Mike Gorman was in Milwaukee for Boston’s 102-86 victory over the Bucks, and he came away appalled at how bad the atmosphere is around the Bradley Center. In a radio interview Tuesday morning, Gorman was asked whether it was so bad that a top college prospect would consider staying in school rather than going to play for a bad team in frigid Wisconsin.
“Yes,” Gorman said without hesitation on 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich.” “I do. I do, especially if you’re Jabari Parker and another year at Duke University is not going to help you. He seems like a very grounded kid. I hope he comes out, because I hope the Celtics figure out some way to get a shot at him.”
Once, it was unthinkable that a player would turn down millions in guaranteed money for an extra year of college. Anthony Bennett, last year’s No. 1 pick, must be ecstatic that he is guaranteed more than $16 million over the first three seasons of what looks like it could be a highly disappointing career. As long as a player is confident in his abilities, though, his potential NBA destinations could be a factor in deciding whether to declare for the draft.
“I do think kids are going to start to do that,” Gorman said. “They can get insurance policies these days to make sure, if something happens, they have a lot of money if they stay an extra year at school. Yeah, I think who has the No. 1 pick can definitely determine — I shouldn’t say determine, but would definitely be an input in whether a kid decides to come out.”
This is what it’s come to, Bucks. Not even the promise of millions of dollars to play in the best basketball league on the planet might be enough to convince a great player to join your organization. These have to be the darkest days for the great state of Wisconsin since “That 70’s Show” went off the air.