Four feet. That was the difference between Lebron James winning a title last season and losing one the season before. To clarify, that’s four feet closer to the basket. Tobias Harris wants to be that four feet closer than other wings his age and he operates well there. For that reason alone, the Bucks should be thankful to have him.
Controlling the paint never stopped being the key. The Jordan era, golden age of point guards, stretch 4s and lack of traditional, quality centers hasn’t changed that. It has just redefined how it could be done. Russell Westbrook and Rajon Rondo are nearly the best rebounders on their teams. Dwyane Wade is one of the league’s premier-shot blockers. Kurt Thomas wily, veteran tricks carried the Bucks when Andrew Bogut went down in 2009. It’s not about finding guys at certain positions to do certain things. It’s about finding any guy that will either give the value needed or (in Thomas’s case) nullify what the other team can do.
The Bucks are set up to have a good season in the paint – at least offensively. They have Ersan Ilyasova’s elite offensive rebounding. Monta Ellis is one of the premiere post scorers in the league (true story – Synergy has Ellis ranked sixth overall in post up attempts with 1.07 points per possession). Then there’s Harris who’s just about ready to blossom into someone who’s pretty damn good.
Harris has been compared to Carmelo Anthony. It makes sense in that they have the same body type and are or potentially are prolific scorers. But Anthony shuns what someone with his body should do. John Holllinger’s player profile of Anthony says it all, “Dominant power forward masquerading as a 3.” Harris has embraced what his body type was meant for and he’s embraced the strengths that can make him a great scorer. He attacks the basket. Per game, Harris averages 1.6 attempts at the rim, 1 attempt 3-9 feet away, 0.3 attempts 10-15 feet away, 0.6 attempts 16-23 feet away, and 0.5 attempts from three.
Anthony fades away – toward the perimeter where inefficiency dwells. When Harris goes to shoot his body is always moving toward the basket. The fade away is certainly in vogue and a weapon that shouldn’t be shunned, but it makes too much sense to moving your body forward gives you a better chance than going backward. I pretty much love him for doing that.
Harris lacks the quickness to defend on the perimeter. That’s why he didn’t get to play last year. But he thrives in physical play. His rebounding rate is just above average, but there’s plenty of room for growth there. With the league moving toward smaller, faster lineups, it makes too much sense to shove Harris in at the four. If Scott Skiles keeps him at the wing (he will because the Bucks have too many power forwards), we might miss something special.