On the court, it’s been a very good summer for the Milwaukee Bucks. A big part of that has been Tobias Harris, the 19th pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. After receiving sporadic minutes last season, he was named to the Las Vegas Summer League All-Star team. He looked a little bit leaner and equally as fluent on offense throughout the Bucks week in Vegas.
Given the way things have shaken out this summer, it seems safe to start to consider just how big of a role and how much of an impact Harris is going to make next season and it certainly doesn’t seem unreasonable to project a pretty positive future for Harris, next season and beyond.
I started digging into Harris a little bit, researching and remembering things about him. And a found a thing or two I liked. And then another thing or two, followed by another. Pretty soon, I had a nice round number.
Tobias Harris. Or as I call him, the Sous Chef of Summer League.
1. Does anyone else want to view the Bucks current inability/failure to land a veteran wing as a sign that they could actually be a little more excited about Harris than logic might dictate they should be? I know that according to Jodie Meeks the Bucks are courting Jodie Meeks, but he’s more of a shooter to play the two guard.
There are minutes open at the three. Mike Dunleavy will take some, and maybe the Bucks really do think Luc Mbah a Moute can hold up there, but we all know once the season starts, he’ll end up sliding back to the four when Larry Sanders fouls a ref 20 seconds into game one. And who will be there to scoop up the rest of the small forward minutes? The young sir Tobias Harris. The Bucks faith in him – that maybe I’ve created – is something worth liking.
2. He’s just turned 20 years old.
3. Three players have played less than 500 minutes as a teenage rookie and scored more than 150 points: Jermaine O’Neal, Gerald Wallace and Tobias Harris.
4. Wallace and Harris are an interesting contrast. Yes, Wallace is far more athletic. And yes, Harris plays with a more obvious awareness of where and when he’s supposed to attack. But both have some physical advantages over most small forward. For Wallace, he’s used his leaping ability and first step to get in the paint and on the line quite a bit. For Harris, he could use his size and strength to muscle up smaller forwards in the post and in the paint. Both were 19-year-old rookies capable of scoring and rebounding a bit.
If you card enough to check out Basketball-Reference, you can see that Harris was certainly more refined offensively – considerably higher field goal and free throw percentages. If he could develop into a more threatening offensive player with half the defensive ability of Wallace, that would be terrific.
6. I wrote about this right when Harris was drafted, but it’s worth re-visiting for a moment: He’s a different kind of project. As a basketball player, particularly as an offensive one, he really is quite adept. It was losing a couple pounds and getting used to the speed of the game that he really needed to do. With no summer league and then dehydration/a blood disorder/possibly having been bit by a zombie keeping him out of training camp last year, he really didn’t get much of a chance to get caught up to the speed last season.
Now he’ll have had the benefit of a whole season, summer league and training camp when this next season starts. He’ll probably still be a little ways away defensively, but it seems reasonable to think Harris will be a physically fit and capable NBA player come late October.
7. 21.5 points and eight rebounds per game in his first summer league, going into his second season, at age 20. Nice.
8. Harris was a McDonald’s All-American coming out of high school. Personally, I like guys who were once regarded as elite prospects. It’s easy to forget that Harris was in that class, as he played for a Tennessee team that didn’t make the lost in embarrassing fashion in the first round of the NCAA Tournament and fell to 19th in the draft as a relative unknown.
9. He started in nine games for the Bucks as a rookie. Generally speaking, most rookies that have started at least that many games have turned out okay for the Bucks. Notable exceptions: Tractor Traylor, Yi Jianlian, Eric Mobley, Anthony Avent and Larry Sa….we’ll give him another year.
10. Harris is from Long Island. Julius Erving is from Long Island.
(Note: I only had nine things.)
Jeremy Schmidt is the editor of Bucksketball.com. “He’s a pleasure to follow on Twitter.” – Jeremy Schmidt