The Milwaukee Bucks took the safe pick in selecting Jabari Parker second overall in the 2014 draft. Today, Parker remains a free-agent, eligible to sign with any NBA team. (Should the Bucks scoop him back up?) While many would consider that to be a “bust”, there certainly was much worse when it comes to the draft that year and eventual player performance related to their pick position. Dante Exum at 5 or Nik Stauskas at 8 certainly did not pan out, performance-wise. (I always have to be careful here because they still did MAKE THE NBA. That in itself is a lifelong accomplishment.) Yet, there were many other picks that would most likely still be with the team today, paired up with Giannis to continue to make deep runs in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Some of the other options might shock you a little. The 2014 NBA Draft turned out some really great players.
Of course the Bucks franchise could have looked a lot different without Parker. (It could have looked a lot different without Thon Maker as well.) Who else could the Bucks have drafted instead of Parker? Remember, Giannis was drafted in 2013 so any number of “dream team” scenarios can exist in the minds of Bucks fans based-off the 2014 draft. Our first possible player is a doozy!
Joel Embiid (3rd Overall)
Could you imagine having Embiid?
Embiid went third out of the 2014 NBA after having a promising freshman year at Kansas. Playing alongside #1 overall pick Andrew Wiggins, that Kansas team was knocked out of the NCAA tourney by Stanford in the round of 32, surprising given how loaded that team was. (Wisconsin made the final four that year.) Embiid oozed potential.
The knock on Embiid coming out of that year’s draft was his foot. He seemed to be injury prone. And he has struggled at times with injuries. But wow, he was as good as advertised in the 2021-2022 season. A center that can score and stretch the floor, Embiid and Giannis together could have been a team that easily could win 60+ games a season.
A career 26 point a game, 11+ rebounds a game player, Embiid instead of Parker could have given the Bucks multiple championship trophies.
Marcus Smart (6th Overall)
The player we all love to hate would have felt like a reach at pick number two- at the time. Taken 6th overall, the 2021-2022 defensive player of the year and three time NBA all-defensive team has certainly improved since college at Oklahoma State. The defensive accomplishments for Smart have simply been outstanding.
Of course, at the time the Bucks were focused on scoring. Smart over his career has only averaged 10 points a game and shot 38% from the field. But had the Bucks drafted Marcus Smart they would not have needed to trade for Jrue Holiday. And if you don’t have to trade for Jrue Holiday then you have a lot more draft capital today.
Nikola Jokić (41st Overall)
Could you imagine having Jokic and Giannis on the same team? This has been written about so much by other writers as everyone seemed to “miss” on the joker. He certainly has turned out to be everything and more, almost single-handedly keeping the Nuggets in playoff contention.
For the Bucks it would be simple. The Houston Rockets had the twin towers with Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon in 1984; to think the Bucks could have had Jokic and Giannis on the same team feels unbelievable. It would be like having the twin towers who could also handle the ball, score and will, and play hard.
Jokic was selected 41st in 2014 NBA draft, meaning EVERY team passed on him. Of course, it seems insane to think of a Giannis, Middleton, Holiday, and Jokic team now. That is certainly a dream scenario.
Johnny O’Bryant was the Bucks second round pick that year at 36. Ironically, the Bucks continue to show interest in fellow 2nd round pick Jordan Clarkson from that same season.