MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee Bucks drafted 18-year-old Giannis Antetokounmpo, a 6-9 forward from Greece, with the 15th overall pick of the NBA draft Thursday night, a head-scratcher of a pick for a team in dire need of backcourt help.
The Bucks may have addressed that need after all, even if the team didn't confirm it: High-scoring South Dakota State guard Nate Wolters was acquired by the Bucks in a trade involving the Washington Wizards and Philadelphia, according to Allegiant Athletic Agency, Wolters' agent.
None of the teams had announced the deal late Thursday, leaving the focus on Antetokounmpo, who averaged 9.5 points and 5.0 in 26 games last season for Filathlitikos in Greece's second division.
"If it were about need and being safe, we'd take the backcourt pick," Bucks general manager John Hammond said. "That wasn't about this. This was about taking the best player on the board."
The Bucks had been projected to select a guard to replace Monta Ellis, the team's leading scorer last season, who opted out of his contract to become a free agent. In addition, starting point guard Brandon Jennings is a restricted free agent.
Wolters, a 6-5 point guard, averaged 22.7 points last season.
"Being drafted to play in the NBA is a dream that I've worked my entire life to achieve," he said in a statement provided by Allegiant. "Milwaukee is a great organization and I am very appreciative for this opportunity."
With their own pick at No. 43, the Bucks drafted 6-6 shooting guard Ricky Ledo of Providence, but a person with knowledge of the deal said he was being sent Ledo to Dallas for a 2014 second-round choice. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the deal had not been announced.
Among the guards still available when the Bucks made their pick were Dennis Schroeder of Germany, Shane Larkin of Miami and Sergey Karsev of Russia, each of whom went shortly after Milwaukee's pick.
Hammond said the guard situation would have to be addressed through free agency.
"That's what we'll have to do," he said. "We understand that."
Bucks coach Larry Drew, who was hired in early June after coaching the Atlanta Hawks the last three seasons, admitted he had some catching up to do on Antetokounmpo.
"To be perfectly honest, I had never heard of him," Drew said. "I remember watching him the first day and just seeing where this kid was, his skill level. His skill level, it's pretty amazing. A kid this young, physically, he's not a very strong kid. I'm talking about skills, I'm talking about his ability to get in between those lines and do things. This kid has it."
"Just sitting with John yesterday, I was just shaking my head and I said, 'John, he will not be there at 15. He won't be there,'" he said. "I am really excited about this kid."