What do Bucks rookies Andre Jackson Jr. and Chris Livingston bring to Milwaukee?

Since the time Jon Horst took over as general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks in 2017, he has spoken regularly about the importance of a successful collaborative process between him and the organization’s head coach. Horst started this in a year with Jason Kidd, but it really blossomed during a five-year partnership with Mike Budenholzer.

Along with Budenholzer, Horst tried to not only identify the best possible players for the Bucks, but also players who had the chance to fit into the things Budenholzer wanted to do on the field. On Thursday, Horst made it clear he still believes in that mission, but also showed that the type of player the Bucks are looking for in the future has changed under new head coach Adrian Griffin.

“We’re not trying to build a roster like we’ve done in the past,” Horst told reporters after Thursday’s NBA draft. “He’s a different coach. We’re going to have a different system. There are fundamental non-negotiable things that we’re always going to worry about and he’s very aligned with those things, but we also weigh his opinions and use his opinions to try to build this.

“He came up when we had a press conference a few weeks ago, he was really talking about energy and effort and defensive versatility and being able to close and change and challenge and things like that. I don’t think let it be a mistake that you see what we have tried to do in the draft and we will try to bring people into our system and grow them into our system with our new coach and the way we want to play He’s as excited as I am about these guys.

The Bucks entered the draft with just one pick (No. 58), but Horst struck a draft night deal with the Orlando Magic to grab a second pick (No. 36) and ended up adding two players which show how much things have changed. philosophically within weeks for the Bucks.

Bucks trade No. 36 and take over Andre Jackson Jr.

Last week, Athleticism reported that the Bucks were trying to find a pick in the 20s or 30s and the Bucks found one on a Thursday night Magic. In exchange for their 2030 second-round pick and cash considerations, the Bucks landed the No. 36 pick.

There’s always some level of risk in giving up a future pick, but the second round of the 2030 NBA Draft is a long way off. A selection in this draft won’t help the Bucks find potential contributors for a roster trying to challenge for a championship in 2023-24 with Giannis Antetokounmpo still in his prime.

Without dropping a current player from their roster, Horst found a way to get into the lineup they hoped to enter before the draft and selected Andre Jackson Jr. from the University of Connecticut.

“(He’s) a national champion, an experienced player in a high-profile program, a winner, a guy who was really on the ballots and kind of on the watch lists to be Defensive Player of the Year. in college basketball,” Horst said. . “He’s kind of a swiss army knife, kind of a top athlete, great on open ground, really knows how to play, good pace, good decision making. High character and just a winner so we’re really excited to having him on our team and being able to draft him.

Jackson, 21, is a fascinating player. For years, the Bucks prioritized shooting to surround Antetokounmpo, and Jackson showed little skill in that department in college. In three seasons at UConn, Jackson took just 167 3-pointers (1.9 attempts per game) and made just 29.3 percent. And yet, the Bucks still took Jackson.

“He’s a winner,” Horst said when asked by Athleticism about Jackson’s selection despite his poor shooting on the outside. “To impact winning at a high level with low tries, he knows how to do it. It’s not that he can’t shoot or won’t shoot, he just knows how to play. He will find his spots, he will choose his spots. And, if he was sitting here next to me right now, he will tell you that he can work on it and he will work on it.

“He is a tireless worker. He’s a great competitor. And he will improve in this area. It is a teachable skill. It’s something you can improve on. I think it’s a lot harder to find guys who are 6-3 or 6-4 and teach them to be 6-6 or 6-7, and not athletic and teach them to be athletic.

“André has a lot of gifts – natural, earned and worked gifts – which I think will give him a chance to succeed for us.”

Although there’s a lot of work to be done on his shot, Jackson is physically impressive. The 6-foot-6 wing achieved a maximum vertical jump of 39 1/2 inches and a three-quarter sprint of 3.14 seconds at the combine draft, both of which were in the top five, and its wingspan was measured at 6- ten.

Jackson has no problem showing off these physical tools.

As Horst said during his post-draft remarks, it wasn’t just Jackson’s physical tools that were impressive, but rather the way he used them to put his teammates in better positions.

“I don’t want to minimize what he can do offensively, just because he doesn’t have those mind-blowing stats,” Horst said. “He’s a connector. He’s a guy who makes ball games. He can help guys get shots. Can finish in transition. He’s going to make plays that are going to blow us away and that’s a choice second-rounder. He’s a rookie, so he’s going to have to grow and develop.

“But I think he’s got the right makeup to do this and he’ll have the right opportunity to get what he’s winning here with Milwaukee.”

Jackson played with big shooters on the national champion Huskies this season, but he was often the player creating the advantage to set them up and then hit them with timely, targeted passes, even in take-out situations where he would have could prioritize getting to the rim.

Despite his shooting difficulties, no matter how well Jackson performs offensively, it will be difficult for him to get playing time unless his shooting improves.

But if Griffin wants to press the ball, Jackson has the physical tools and game savvy to make a defensive impact.

“He’s going to have to develop his body and keep doing it, but in the current NBA, I think almost (he can defend) one to five. I mean, of course, one to four,” Horst said.

“His strength and development there will maybe help him have more impact in the most important positions, the four-five position kind. But what stands out is his IQ, his willingness to put himself in those positions and athletically he has the ability to execute the mission or what he wants to accomplish with that. He was a very hard-hitting defender at a high level in college.

With their initial pick, the Bucks selected Chris Livingston, a one-timer from the University of Kentucky. Athleticism‘s Shams Charania reported that Livingston’s agent, Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul called the league teams and asked that they not draft Livingston because he had a set up place he wanted to go and that place ended up being Milwaukee.

Livingston, 19, averaged just 6.3 points and 4.2 rebounds in 22.4 minutes per game as a rookie at Kentucky, but he started 26 games for coach John Calipari and seemed become more comfortable in his role as the season progresses.

“Chris has the pedigree – he’s a McDonald’s All-American, he’s been through a top program, he’s been one of the best players in his class for many years,” Horst said. “A really competitive kid, young man. Really mature body for his age and he is a hard worker. So I think when you put those things together he has a great game. He attacks the rim, can put the ball on the ground. Much of the season at Kentucky he was a positive perimeter shooter and later in the season he slipped a bit. There’s just a lot to work on there.

“I think he’s got the right approach, he’s got the right mentality to grind and make it work like a second-round pick on an NBA team, a good NBA team, the way he We are excited about him just as we are excited about Andre, and I think we have two competitive, physically strong, physically gifted young wingers that we can add to this squad.

At 6-foot-6 with a wingspan of 6-foot-11, Livingston has a strong frame like Jackson but weighs nearly 20 pounds more. While Jackson’s explosiveness stands out, Livingston’s potential has more to do with his strength.

Late in the night, the Bucks came away with two sizeable wings, which seemed to be their goal.

“It meant a lot and it was absolutely a goal,” Horst said. “It’s not a secret, I think it’s very obvious. Different levels of experience, different levels of academic achievement, different ages, but the basis of who they are and what we think they can bring – competitiveness, size, strength, they both are selfless, they are high IQ players – was absolutely something we were targeting.

“And really, we didn’t go for 36 until we felt like we could get it. And at 58, we were hoping we could get it, but you never know, it’s really far down the road. And we had exit plans for 36 if that didn’t work out, but we kind of jumped in without a parachute when we went for that pick.

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(Photo by Andre Jackson Jr.: Ben Solomon/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

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