After playoff season, Milwaukee Bucks sticking to long-term building plan with draft nearing

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ST. FRANCIS, Wisconsin — The Milwaukee Bucks plan to stick with a slow and steady approach to constructing a consistently successful team.

It doesn't appear as if an unexpected push for the playoffs this year is going to accelerate the rebuilding process.

General manager John Hammond on Wednesday identified size and shooting as two top team needs going into the NBA draft on June 25.

The Bucks have the 17th selection in the first round.

But the franchise is in much better shape than a year ago, when Milwaukee took forward Jabari Parker with the second overall pick.

Milwaukee won 41 games — a 26-game swing from the previous season — in Jason Kidd's first season as coach. The Bucks lost to the Bulls in the first round in six games.

"We want to get to become a championship-caliber team. The question is, 'How quickly do have to get there?'" Hammond said Wednesday. "Everybody still has the big picture in mind ... We want to go through this organically."

Shooting guard Khris Middleton is a restricted free agent. He wants to come back, though the Bucks could use a perimeter shooter regardless of whether Middleton returns.

Or Milwaukee could add a rugged big man in the draft. The team cut ties with rim-protecting center Larry Sanders during the season following a string of off-court issues.

Center Zaza Pachulia provided leadership and solid play in the middle, but the veteran might be better suited to coming off the bench.

The Bucks are seemingly set at the forward spots, where Parker is expected to return from a left injury and 6-foot-11 Giannis Antetokounmpo is an emerging matchup nightmare.

Six-foot-6 Michael Carter-Williams' lanky frame and pass-first skill set might be a good fit with Kidd, a former All-Star point guard. Middleton also emerged as an offensive threat, particularly after scoring point guard Brandon Knight was dealt.

Six-foot-11 forward John Henson also had a breakout playoff series with energetic play off the bench.

"We're still very much an unfinished product," Hammond said. "We need to continue to add toughness and energy to our team, so we have multiple needs."

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