After a breakout 2016-17 season for the Michigan Wolverines, D.J Wilson is headed to Milwaukee.
Until midway through his junior year, Wilson had been somewhat of an enigma to fans of the Maize and Blue. They had gotten short glimpses of his immense physical gifts, as well as his ability to both roam the paint and shoot from range. But thanks to injuries and veteran depth ahead of him, he never managed to put it all together in his first two years on campus.
As a junior, he was half of Michigan’s formidable front court duo, along with Moritz Wagner. Together, they formed one of the most athletic and versatile front courts in the country.
The Sacramento native had a full season to flash his athleticism, which manifested itself in his 5.3 rebound, and 1.5 blocks per game. He also showed the ability to be an all-around offensive presence, shooting 53% from the field and 37% from deep.
Despite his slender frame and iffy draft status in the weeks leading into Thursday, his length at 6’10 and his incredible 7’3 wingspan were too much to pass up for the Milwaukee Bucks and their young core.
With his height, athletic ability and shooting touch, he’ll come into the league as a matchup nightmare for opposing head coaches. That will certainly get him looks in Milwaukee’s offense as a rookie, before he gradually beefs up and becomes more of a back to the basket power forward, with the ability to stretch out and knock down three pointers from deep.
If you tuned into enough Michigan games this year, you must have heard announcers use the term “go-go gadget arms,” in reference to Wilson’s wingspan. That, too, will be an asset for him throughout his career, and will likely help him see time as a rookie. I mean, it’s hard to keep someone who can dunk as ferociously as he can, and block anything heading towards the basket, off the floor.
The knock on Wilson, which was what originally had analysts a bit surprised by his decision to declare, is his slight build. John Beilein used Wilson as a true stretch four, which gave him looks from all over the floor and probably undercut his tendency to get bullied by larger forwards in the post.
In the NBA, he’ll probably need to put on some pounds pretty quickly.
Mike Schmitz and Josh Riddell of DraftExpress summarized it best:
As a late bloomer with only one real season of experience under his belt, the 21 year old Wilson still has plenty of potential to grow into as he heads into the draft. It will be interesting to see how his frame develops as he matures, since he already possess the skill set of a stretch-4, but he needs to add toughness and competitiveness to not emerge as a one-dimensional player.
Wilson is a project with rare tools heading to a team that is already geared up for a championship run. He’ll need some seasoning and some time in the weight room, but he has the potential to be a real steal for Milwaukee.
Wilson gives Michigan late first round picks in consecutive drafts, after Caris LeVert was picked with the 20th overall choice in the 2016 draft.