BROOKFIELD, Wis. — Milwaukee Bucks general manager John Hammond didn’t just move a few pieces around to upgrade the team’s frontcourt in the offseason. He added two established centers and a rookie power forward to a roster that was already front-loaded with big men.
So with eight of the 14 men on the roster lobbying for minutes in the frontcourt, will the Bucks try to answer their frontcourt questions with a by-committee approach? Or are Hammond and coach Scott Skiles expecting firm starters to emerge?
At the very least, Hammond made it clear at the Bucks’ 21st annual golf outing on Monday that he and Skiles aren’t afraid to use a committee approach.
“Someone once made the comment to me that any time you talk about ‘by-committee’ that means you’re not good enough,” Hammond said. “But I don’t necessarily agree with that. I think that a lot of teams have to do it that way if you don’t have that marquee guy inside, then you have to do things by committee. We feel comfortable with who we are.”
With newly acquired centers Samuel Dalembert and Joel Przybilla likely to split time at center and Drew Gooden also getting some time in the middle, the most interesting battle for playing time may be at the power forward position. And after using the No. 14 pick in the draft on a freakishly long, athletic forward in John Henson, the question of how much Henson will play in his first NBA season is one that could be on the minds of many when the Bucks start training camp next in a week.
Henson was thought by some to be too raw to play immediately in the NBA, coming to Milwaukee with a skinny, 6-11, 220-pound frame. But after impressing at the Las Vegas Summer League, there is some question of whether Henson’s offensive game may be more developed than many initially thought. Either way, Hammond said that Skiles wouldn’t be afraid to give Henson a chance early on.
“One thing I’ll say about Scott Skiles as our coach is Scott’s never been afraid to play young guys,” Hammond said. “There are certain coaches that have the reputation of not playing young players … Scott is not that. He’s a guy that’s given guys an opportunity to play, and I think John can get on the floor this year and help us.”
Harris coming along: Henson wasn’t the only one to impress the masses at the Las Vegas Summer League. In fact, it may have been Tobias Harris that stole the show for the Bucks.
After Harris was unable to find a rhythm and a consistent rotation spot in the Bucks lineup last season, he looked like the best player on the court in many of the team’s summer league games, turning in a handful of double-double performances and simply looking like a better player all-around.
That boils down to his strong work ethic, Hammond said. And given that Harris had a tough set of circumstances last season, coming in as one of the league’s youngest players in a lockout year, the Bucks general manager expects a step forward in the second year of his career.
“You take the summer league for what it is,” Hammond said. “You don’t read too much into it either way … but it was a positive summer, especially for Tobias. Being drafted last year, 19 years old, with the lockout, no training camp, came into the short training camp and had a medical issue right from the get go, he had a difficult season last year. So for him to have the good summer was very rewarding for him. You don’t find a harder working, better guy to be around.
“He just turned 20 years old on July 15. He’s a very young guy, and he has a chance to be a very good player in this league. I think he has good value around the league, and I think people around the league feel the same way about him right now.”
Still, Harris admitted last week that he’s got a long way to go to fulfilling the potential he feels like he brings to the table. However, this season, Harris knows he’ll get more of an opportunity to prove himself.
“(The summer league) helped me out a lot because we … had a lot of time to go through our system, go through our defense, play against good competition,” Harris said. “It helped me out a tremendous amount.
“I definitely see it as an opportunity for me. That’s why I’m here working and getting better … guarding smaller guards and getting better on defense so I can guard the 3.”
Udrih’s role: With all eyes on the Bucks’ backcourt combination of Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, reserve guard Beno Udrih definitely got lost in the shuffle last season, playing just 18 minutes per game after being a starter in Sacramento prior to joining the Bucks.
It wasn’t the role Udrih expected, and on Monday, he said he wasn’t sure what to expect in the upcoming season either.
“I thought my role was going to be different last year, and things were different,” Udrih said. “It’s a fact: I had the best plus/minus last year and only played like 16, 17 minutes per game. I really don’t know what my role is. … I played consistently for like four years when I was in Sacramento, and I wanted to come here and help the team.”