When asked by Jim Paschke if he wanted to start, Tobias Harris quickly answered, “I would love to be a starter.” With the grim news out of the Bucks Media Day event today, Harris may get his wish sooner rather than later.
Charles F. Gardner reported earlier today that Luc Mbah a Moute is expected to miss all of training camp as he continues to recover from offseason knee surgery.
“It’s getting better every day,” Mbah a Moute said during the media day interviews at the Cousins Center. “I don’t think I’ll be on the court during training camp. I’m hoping to be back sometime soon, though.”
To compound the issues of depth at the wing positions, second-round draft pick Doron Lamb will also be out for an extended period, as noted on BrewHoop. As Lamb himself hinted at on Twitter a few days ago, Lamb tore a ligament in his left (non-shooting) elbow during pre-camp scrimmages. While Doron’s role as a rotation player wasn’t entirely clear, his absence will weigh more heavily in Luc’s absence.
So with Lamb and Mbah a Moute missing, the Bucks will start the season extremely thin at the wing positions for the second year in a row. A year ago, Mbah a Moute and Mike Dunleavy, Jr. only played a combined five games (while missing 21) over the season’s first four weeks. They weren’t alone. Harris himself missed the start of the season with dehydration issues. A 4-9 start left the Bucks in a hole, one from which they never recovered.
Throw in the fact that in his Media Day interviews Dunleavy A) said that he was comfortable at both the 2 and 3 spots, and B) would be willing to come off the bench (a role that suited him well in the lockout season), and all signs point to Harris starting. With Lamb out, Dunleavy can sponge nearly all the backup minutes at both wing positions unless Scott Skiles decides to give recent signee Marquis Daniels a regular spot in the rotation. But Daniels isn’t suited to being a starter — he’s not rugged enough for those types of minutes and his lack of range on his jump shot well is a flaw best hidden over short stints. Expect Harris to start.
Harris averaged 20.8 points (on 53% FG shooting) and 7.0 rebounds per game in Las Vegas Summer League action in July.
Stylistically, Tobias and Ersan would be a natural pairing. On offense, they form a formidable inside-out duo, with Harris on the block or elbow and Ilyasova spotting up behind the arc — a position from which Ersan can comfortably make his off-the-ball cuts. Defensively, Ersan can handle himself down low and Tobias can theoretically chase the wing player. In actuality, it may shake out differently, though. Harris’ defense is a huge question mark headed into this season. Can he master Skiles’ defensive plan with a full camp better than he did as a rookie in the fractured lockout season?
It’s a safe bet that Harris will improve defensively. But the margin by which he improves could go a long way toward determining the Bucks’ fate this season. Until then, the Bucks are still undefeated, and October optimism reigns.