Johnny O’Bryant looks to earn spot with Bucks

LAS VEGAS — Former LSU basketball player Johnny O’Bryant continues his bid to earn a roster spot and get into the rotation of new coach Jason Kidd when the Milwaukee Bucks open play in the NBA Summer League on Friday night.

O’Bryant, the Bucks’ second-round pick in the draft last month, has been working on doing just that the past three days as the Bucks held practice sessions for a handful of returnees and newcomers in advance of their summer league opener at 7 p.m. Friday against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

O’Bryant was the 36th pick of the draft after leaving school a year early. The 6-foot-9, 255-pound forward, a two-time All-SEC first-team pick of the league’s coaches, averaged 15.4 points and 7.7 rebounds last season.

O’Bryant told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel the Bucks targeted him with one of their two second-round picks.

“I think Milwaukee was a team that had their eye on me all along,” O’Bryant said. “I think I had a pretty good workout for them. I’m just happy to be here.”

In workouts this week, the paper noted O’Bryant’s ability to work inside and make shots with either hand and also knock down mid-range jump shots.

“I just try to bring a physicality to a team,” he said. “It’s a very long team as far as wingspan and height. I try to play aggressive and bring the energy level I have. Making sure my left hand (is a weapon) and my footwork is proper is something I really take pride in.”

Kidd, a former NBA star who left the Brooklyn Nets after one season as their coach and landed with the Bucks just a few days after the draft, said he didn’t know much about O’Bryant until this week.

But he likes what he saw in the first two days of summer league practice.

“He’s a great kid. … He works extremely hard,” Kidd told the paper. “He’s picked up what we’re trying to do offensively and defensively. He understands how to play.

“He’s got a soft touch around the basket,” Kidd added. “When you talk about understanding how to use his body, he knows how to do that.”