Sunday, the Milwaukee Bucks wrapped up their tour of duty in Vegas and came back to Milwaukee with a stellar 4-1 record to show for it. While the NBA Summer League means nothing, there were things to be learned about the Bucks, their prospects and projects. There was some stellar play out in the Mojave. With that said, the future look a little brighter in Milwaukee.
It was great seeing John Henson put his moves on display as he put on quite a show over the week. Doron Lamb showed why he would be a sound scorer off the bench while Tobias Harris showed maturity and growth this summer, reminding the Bucks of why they took him 19th overall last year. These three stood out for the Bucks in Vegas and one can only hope to see similar production as they adjust to real NBA level competition.
Let me be the first to admit, I was a wee bit skeptical of the Bucks taking North Carolina’s John Henson 14th overall. On draft night I made it clear via Twitter that I wasn’t too fond of the pick. However, as last week progressed, my undying faith in Bucks GM John Hammond reared its head as I began to grow fond of the selection. Unlike some rookies in the past, Henson actually worked out for the Bucks and was signed quickly to his rookie deal and seemed eager to get on the court for Milwaukee, which is something the Bucks have had issues with in a few cases in the past. (Yi Jianlian; 2007)
Throughout his time in Vegas, Henson gave Bucks fans a lot to hope for, averaging 18 points per along with 7 rebounds a night. Granted, this is summer league ball so one must contain their excitement but Henson has shown more than I expected him this summer to after averaging 13 last season as a Tar Heel.
Drafted into what many think will be a logjam at power forward, Henson is a player that will find minutes under Skiles. He is a terrific passer down on the block. Against Boston, Henson put his vision on display with 4 assists. This number would’ve been higher had some good looks fallen through. After trading away a solid post passer in Andrew Bogut last season, the Bucks find themselves with a really good passing frontcourt with players like Ersan Ilyasova and Drew Gooden. Henson is somebody who should fit right into this group and earn himself minutes.
Another thing that stood out about Henson was his solid shooting touch which I expect to be top notch for a big man as he develops. Time after time, Henson was found at the top of the key knocking down shots. Between himself ann Ilyasova, the Bucks could ideally have a power forward that could stretch the floor on the court at all times in the coming years. Add on to the fact that he is capable of becoming a dominant shot-blocker with his 7’6 wingspan and Henson should have no problem getting action this season. Oh and he’s the two-time reigning ACC defensive player of the year.
One thing I’ve learned while watching summer league basketball over the years is to not get too high on players that have great performances. Usually, I tend to look at a 25 point summer league night and translate it into an 11 point game in the real NBA. (Don’t ask me how I do it but it keeps me from getting too excited and getting my hopes up) Tobias Harris’ play throughout the summer league has silently blown me away. He looks like a matured player and it looks as if the Bucks are going to pay off on what many consider to be a “project” player.
Due to the lockout last season, Harris wasn’t afforded the luxury of being able to participate in the summer league his rookie season. This year Harris made the most of it, averaging around 21 points while grabbing 7 rebounds per game and earning a spot on the 2012 NBA Summer League All-Star Team along with Henson. Keep in mind that Harris just turned 20 years old. If he continues to develop, he could potentially be the wing player that the Bucks need moving forward.
Following a successful career under Coach Calipari at Kentucky, Doron Lamb sparked immediate interest when it was announced he was going to play for Milwaukee. Last season at Kentucky, Lamb shot an outstanding 46 percent from three-point range while averaging 14 points a night. Lamb immediately shined with a 20 point effort against the Hornets.
Following that performance, Lamb’s scoring seemed to taper off a bit as he seemed to fall into a slump. Not to mention he didn’t make one trey-ball out in Vegas. May have been the heat, but in the end, Lamb has had an impressive summer, averaging 14 points.
I feel Lamb could be the second coming of Jodie Meeks. It is as if the basketball gods handed the Bucks Doron Lamb and said, “Let’s not screw this up again. Okay?” The Bucks will have to keep an eye on Lamb, he may just be the scoring they need desperately off of the bench. They’ll have to wait and see more to know for sure.
The Bucks seem to have brought in the right guys to play under the defensive minded Scott Skiles.
Larry Sanders had a solid performance against the Celtics but I truly expected more out of the third-year forward. I see Henson playing a major part coming into games if he can continue to stretch the floor and rebound like he did last week in Vegas. Harris continues to develop and perhaps will find his way onto the floor more now with Carlos Delfino out.
I see Lamb providing some quick scoring off of the bench behind Jennings and Ellis. While they haven’t been able to land much as far as a veteran has gone in free agency, the Bucks may have made the right moves this summer with Henson and Lamb. Hopefully for the Bucks sake, these solid outings in Vegas will make their way back to Milwaukee.
Tony Atkins is a contributor to Bucksketball.com. Follow him on Twitter at ByTonyAtkins.