MILWAUKEE—While the Milwaukee Bucks are much improved, they are far from a finished product.
General manager John Hammond knew outside shooting was one of the main pieces he was missing, so he made a move Thursday night to address it by taking UNLV shooting guard Rashad Vaughn with the No. 17 overall pick in the NBA draft.
The 6-foot-6, 210-pound Vaughn will be expected to provide additional outside scoring for the Bucks, who went 41-41 in a surprising turnaround last season — their first under coach Jason Kidd.
“There was a real need for shooting on our roster,” Hammond said. “With Rashad Vaughn at the 17th pick, we looked at him as, at that time, the best player on the board for us, particularly because he can really shoot the basketball.”
The Bucks also added a veteran backcourt presence by acquiring guard Greivis Vasquez from Toronto in exchange for the 46th pick, UCLA shooting guard Norman Powell, and a first-round pick in 2017.
“We really like Greivis, we always have,” Hammond said. “I know Jason (Kidd) has been a big fan of his. And to add, we call him a ‘veteran’ point guard, he’s 28 years old, and he’s got playoff experience. He really can see the floor, he’s turned himself into a very good, high-quality 3-point shooter. So we like a lot of things that he’ll bring to our team.”
Vazquez will back up point guard Michael Carter-Williams, and Hammond said there might be situations where both players will be on the floor. Hammond said he wasn’t hesitant to part with the 2017 pick, which was acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers in a previous trade.
“It’s a protected first-round pick,” Hammond said. “So I think to add a quality player like Greivis, and to use that pick, I think it’s a good opportunity for us.”
Vaughn is coming off a season-ending injury to his left knee but averaged 17.8 points per game in 23 games as a freshman, shooting 43.9 percent from the floor and 38.3 percent from 3-point range.
“I think I’m going to be a steal,” said Vaughn, speaking via telephone to reporters in Milwaukee. “I’m going to come in, I’m going to work, work as hard as I possibly can and I’m just glad they gave me this opportunity.”
Vaughn said his knee is “100 percent,” adding, “I have no concerns at all about it. Everything is good.”
Vaughn, the Mountain West Freshman of the Year, turns 19 in August. He joins a youthful team that has rising stars in Giannis Antetokounmpo and last year’s No. 2 overall pick, Jabari Parker.
“We just continue to get younger,” Hammond said.
Vaughn impressed the Bucks in at least two pre-draft workouts, including one in Milwaukee on Monday. Vaughn has Midwestern ties as a native of Minneapolis who played some AAU basketball in Milwaukee.
“He’s very comfortable here, he likes it here, so that was a little intriguing for us also,” Hammond said.
Vaughn said he “loved” his workout visit with the Bucks.
“I’m already from the Midwest, and I thought it would be a great place for me to live, and even be closer back to home,” Vaughn said. “Also it was a great fit for me as a team, being such a young team, got great players and I just thought I was the missing piece.”
Vaughn’s outside shooting could add another dimension on offense for the Bucks. Milwaukee shot a respectable 36.3 percent from 3-point range as a team last year, but they attempted only 18.3 3-pointers per game, fifth-lowest in the league. They traded big man Ersan Ilyasova, a decent outside shooter, to Detroit earlier this month.
After finishing with the league’s worst record in 2013-14, the Bucks finished the regular season with a .500 record, and did so largely without Parker, who missed most of the season with a left knee injury. Parker’s return from injury will perhaps be the most significant development for a young team that is widely considered to be on the upswing with Antetokounmpo and Carter-Williams.
Vaughn was taken one spot before Wisconsin forward Sam Dekker, who went to Houston at No. 18. Hammond praised Dekker, but said he and the Bucks might not be the right fit.
“We like Sam,” Hammond said. “We talked about best player on the board for us, with the need for shooting in particular. And with our roster as-is, in particular with Giannis and Jabari, to add a forward, Sam’s position, may not have been maybe the best fit for us — and may not have been the best fit for Sam. I think he ended up in a great place in Houston, and we wish him nothing but the best.”