Tobias Harris has captured the imagination of Milwaukee Bucks fans since the team (unofficially) selected him with the No. 19 overall selection in the 2011 NBA Draft, and he particularly shined during his NBA Summer League debut against the New Orleans Hornets on Monday night. Here are some notes and observations on Harris' impressive performance just in case you missed the game.
Notes on Tobias Harris From Summer League Game 1 Vs. New Orleans Hornets
From a scoring perspective, Tobias Harris provided plenty of very encouraging moments in his first Summer League action. He started nearly every play in the corner during the first half, as he branched out in multiple sets to produce 8 points on 4-6 shooting during the first two quarters. The 20-year-old first-round pick from the 2011 NBA Draft never really slowed down in the scoring department, either. He finished with 19 points on 8-15 shooting and posted a 58.2 TS% for the night.
Harris looked most effective in sets that started with all five players along the arc (let's call it a Five Out look). On multiple occasions the Bucks ran pin-down screens in the corner, allowing him to curl to the elbow area and use one or two dribbles to create his own open looks. In the Five Out sets where he received a pin-down, Harris paid off those calls with decisive moves to the paint and soft pull-up jumpers.
The best move Tobias made all night came on a slashing drive from the corner during the first half, where he attacked with three dribbles, moved fluidly into the paint and used leverage on his defender to spin to the rim for an easy bucket. Any converted perimeter move is reason for excitement, but this one stuck out in my mind. Several transition moves in the second half caught my eye as well, as he displayed nice change of direction, a tight handle and the strength to gather for a shot attempt in traffic. Those traits will be assets if he can get on the court with Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis fairly often during the season.
The Bucks only attempted to put Harris in a post isolation once -- a staggered post play from the Five Out look during the first half -- and although he gained good position on the block against Xavier Henry, a lazy entry pass from Bucks big Xavier Gibson disrupted the play. Harris lost the ball as the defense doubled down, but to his credit he followed his own mistake, grabbed the loose ball and turned it into a silky 8-foot jumper off one dribble from the short corner.
With most of his offense coming off cuts and slash drives from the corner, Harris did not attempt any shots beyond 10-feet in the first half. He didn't toss up any threes until the second half and hit just 1-4 attempts from beyond the arc.
If Harris is expected to fill a roll as a floor spacer and corner three-point threat for the Bucks during the season, he didn't show a whole lot from that perspective on Monday night. That's not an indictment, but the lack of convincing evidence and absence of deliberate usage in that regard continues to worry me. That being said, he did look very confident and decisive in his role as a slasher. It's something to watch going forward in Summer League action.
On the glass Harris was fairly active, but he failed to make much of an impact. It took him over 14 minutes on the floor to grab his first rebound (!). The scary part is that it turned out to be his only rebound in over 34 minutes of action(!!) even though the Hornets shot well under 40 percent for the night (!!!).
Harris looked fine on defense. He specifically flashed decent quickness and awareness on an isolation play against Austin Rivers in the second quarter. The young small forward effectively forced Rivers to the baseline without bodying him, which allowed him to avoid committing a foul while still preventing any angle of attack for the Hornets' rookie guard. Everything that happened on that play inspired my confidence in Harris as a capable perimeter defender in Skiles' system. Even his worst defensive play - a gamble in the passing lane during the first half that left Darius Miller wide open for a three-point look (a miss) - turned into a breakaway layup as he leaked out and lucked out all at once.
In sum, the positives (decisive slashing and efficient scoring) far outweighed any negatives (lack of assists, poor rebounding numbers) in Tobias Harris' NBA Summer League debut. Bucks fans certainly have plenty to be happy about when it comes to Harris.