Editor’s Note: FanSided and its NBA blogs are running a common feature on the five reasons to be hopeful for each NBA team. Since I’m already a hopeless optimist, I tried to find newer, more interesting ways to see the brighter side of the Bucks. It will make their imminent slide down the Central Division ladder that much more painful.
1) Brandon Jennings is older, wiser, stronger and healthier than he was a year ago.
Jennings missed about one-fourth of the Bucks games last year due to a broken pinky toe on his left foot. His absence not only left Milwaukee without a key scorer, but it also left them without a viable starting point guard. (Boykins and Dooling do not count.)
Eventually, Brandon’s foot healed, and in March and April, Jennings finished the season with his best two FG% shooting months since his 55-point game. Don’t expect miracles from Brandon, but do expect his career to keep arcing upward. Keep one very important fact in mind: he’s still barely 22 years old.
2) Andrew Bogut got a boost of Vitamin D.
In one sense, this is a joke; in another, it’s completely serious. The Australian big man spends September to April split between Milwaukee and the skies over the United States. Then he flies over to his homeland for the offseason, where yet again, it’s winter — this time in the Southern Hemisphere.
Not this year: it’s springtime down South (waaay down South) and with no NBA training camps or preseason to tend to, Bogut remained overseas for the warm, dry months of September and October.
Based purely on its potential to let his elbow heal, the lockout should work in Andrew’s favor. But as photos from Aussie papers make it onto the web, I keep thinking (rather subjectively, of course) that he just looks better than when we saw him last. Click here, here, or here to see recent photos of him during the lockout. Does he not look slimmer/fitter/fresher? (While at the same time, there are other NBAers who are beginning to look noticeably heavier – **cough** Carmelo **cough**.)?
Heck, in my opinion, Bogut looks like he’s got a whole Benjamin Button-thing going on. How delusional am I to think it might translate into something on the court?
3) Tobias Harris got fit.
4) Tobias won a friendly competition against his shooting mentor and fellow UT Vol, Dale Ellis.
5) Tobias spent time in the gym with George Gervin (see above).
This kid is so young; he’s essentially a baby. He may do NOTHING for the Bucks this year. But after a clever draft-day trade in June, the Bucks were picking in the bottom half of the first round and their selection of Harris has me raving, because I think that they maximized the value of a crummy pick in a crummy draft. There are a lot of factors that make Tobias a good choice.
First, he’s really young. Drafting a 19-year-old like Tobias with the hope of a few improvements is much more promising than drafting a 22-year-old with those same aspirations. The Bucks want him to work on his body and his shooting range. From the pics shown here, it surely seems like he’s making a game effort on both counts. And again, he’s 19. For all we know, he could still be growing. Actually, “pretty please, still be growing, Tobias”.
It should also be pointed out that despite his youth, Harris has worked to make himself an NBA draftee. A 2007 scouting report noted critically that he was “soft” and “Bambi physically”. But he put in the necessary time to improve his stock from top-200 college prospect to top-10 college prospect to NBA draftee. He has a network in place to help him work smartly, too. His sister and father played college basketball, his dad later became an NBA agent, he has spent time working with pro trainers — and by all accounts, Tobias has made the most of these resources.
Finally, his game has this unorthodox quirkiness and deft touch that could translate into a scorer’s midrange game. He possesses a knack for tiptoeing into open space and floating in soft shots. George Gervin, shown above, is a family friend — stemming back from the days when Tobias’ dad was his agent. It’s hard to imagine a better tutor for finding clever ways to make buckets.
Plus, if Harris figures all of these things out, the Bucks have room in the playing rotation for a player of his size and talents. If he’s ready soon, great. If not, he can wait and develop out of the limelight for a year or two.
Chances are good that the Bucks will still need him then, too.
K L Chouinard is co-editor of We’re Bucked. Follow him on Twitter here.
(Postscript note, 10/31/11: Tobias spoke about working with Gervin a few days after this article originally posted in his first blog entry at Dime.com.)
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