Milwaukee Bucks Summer League: John Henson Rides High in Game Two


For the second straight Summer League game, the Bucks rode two hot scorers to a huge early lead, frittered it away it the middle quarters, and fought hard in the fourth.

This time, though, Milwaukee stumbled in the end, as the Bucks lost to the Washington Wizards in Las Vegas, 78-75.

Forwards Tobias Harris and John Henson led the Bucks with 24 and 20 points, respectively.  In his Bucks’ debut, Henson also grabbed 10 rebounds, while Harris plucked a game-high 12 boards.

Harris and Henson nearly worked together to tie the game in its final seconds.  Tobias inbounded the ball to Henson, cut alongside him, and received the pass back from Henson just to the right of the hoop.  But Harris’ short bank shot over the outstretched arms of the Wizards’ Chris Singleton went wide and off the rim.

Second-round pick Doron Lamb added 12 points on 6-of-13 shooting while again playing head-and-shoulders above his playing partners in the Bucks’ backcourt.

Co-MVPs: Tobias Harris and John Henson

Harris and Henson can score in so many ways.  He started with a pair of open jumpers at the top of the key, then followed it up with a nifty up-and-under move down low.  John also flipped up two smooth-looking lefty jump hooks, and another opportunistic pair of short baskets when Larry Sanders’ miscues landed fortuitously into his lap.

Tobias once again demonstrated the ability to score from all over the floor, often creating his own looks.  He dunked. He drove the lane and hit floaters.  Bumping on the baseline, he hit what appears to be his go-to shot: a high-elevation turnaround that is shot without leaning in or falling away.  When teammates set pindown screens for him, Harris rubbed his man into the pick to get open jumpers at the top of the key.  (He served as the screener on plays like this one, too.)

On one sequence, Henson and Harris teamed up.  Tobias backed his man just inside the elbow.  When the double-team came to help, Harris passed out to an open Henson, who pump-faked a shot to draw out the double-team.  John entered it back to Harris, who made a 15-foot turnaround.  It was a pro’s pro shot, with the tempo, rhythm, and accuracy you might expect from a sixth-year starter.  The kid has real game.

Tobias Harris is the far-and-parsecs-away best post player on the Bucks and the competition isn’t even close — which is both a testament to the 20-year-old’s talent and an indictment of the rest of the Milwaukee roster in that regard.

Henson played well, but he didn’t play perfectly by any stretch.  He had trouble sealing off his man when he tried to receive an entry pass.  He bounced a ball off his knee to give away two points.  While he showed the savvy not to fall for the same head fakes that baffled Larry Sanders, he did not block or alter a substantive number of shots, either.

LVP: Bradley Beal

In their last outing, the co-LVPs for the Bucks were Aaron Miles and Larry Sanders.  If forced to pick an actual Bucks player or two for LVP honors in this game, the choices again would be the very same Aaron Miles and Larry Sanders.

Bradley Beal, then, is the kinder, gentler choice.

Aaron Miles cleaned up his handle from Monday’s six-turnover debacle.  Against the Wizards, he dished out five assists against zero turnovers.  Well done.  But that doesn’t tell the full story.  He returned in the fourth quarter to direct an offense that went scoreless for the final 6:15 of the game.  He had trouble containing both Shelvin Mack’s dribble drives and his jump shots. And the three misses in his 1-for-4 shooting night speak to another hole in his game.

  • Miss #1 was a hopeless lefty penetration (Henson bailed him out with a tip-in), followed by lethargic transition defense off a made basket.  The resulting 2-on-1 fast break left Doron Lamb channeling Miles’ lack of hope on the other end.
  • Miss #2 was an jump shot airball that came up a full yard short.
  • Miss #3 was a corner jump shot that also looked to be short (by at least a foot), but which was mercifully/mercilessly (pick one) blocked by the side of the backboard.

Like Miles, Sanders improved upon a brutal first game.  Also like Miles, the improvement was marginal, and a slim margin at that.

Larry scored four points on 2-of-7 shooting, grabbed four rebounds, blocked three shots (including one with the game on the line) and generally protected the rim better than any other Milwaukee big man.  He even did some little things well, too, like deftly sliding in a pair of entry passes to the post.

Against the Wizards, Larry only committed five fouls instead of ten.  Progress! But, alas, he still fell for every pump fake in the Pacific Time Zone… while matched up against Shavlik-freaking-shavlikking Randolph.  If Sanders can’t ground himself on the dekes of a Summer League Special, what will happen when he has to guard a bonafide NBA center?

On a positive note, then, there is Bradley Beal.  If there is one person who is the reason why the Bucks lost, it’s the #3 overall pick.

Beal finished with 18 points and six rebounds, but beyond that, he showed a mix of poised scoring and bursts of athleticism that hinted of a young Dwyane Wade.  (Yes, it was just a Summer League game, but when you see it, you know it. It’s unmistakably there.)

On one play, Beal lost track of Doron Lamb who floated by for a finger roll, but Beal stepped in from behind with one long stride, rose above everyone, and hurled it away.

Tweets of the night:

Final verdict: 

The Bucks lost, but for the first six quarters of Summer League play, they did not trail for a second.  Lamb, Harris, and Henson have positively starred when not hampered by poor point guard play.  So they are one player away from being a favorite for a hypothetical Summer League Championship, you know, if such a thing existed.


Bucksketball:  Jon Leuer was waived by the Rockets.  Can the Bucks bring him back?!?

In a word, no.

D-League: The Bucks will now share their NBA Developmental League affiliation with three other teams instead of two.  The Fort Wayne Mad Ants have added the Charlotte Bobcats as an affiliated team.  Insert a cliched joke here about the majority of the Bobcats’ roster being a D-League squad.

Twitter:  Carlos Delfino, in addition to prepping for the Olympics, is now both a proud papa of twins and a free agent being eyed by the Celtics.

Brew Hoop: Dan Sinclair does a fantastic job breaking down Doron Lamb’s Game 1 performance versus the Hornets with careful detail.