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News » BUCKS NOTES Thomas likely starter at power forward

BUCKS NOTES Thomas likely starter at power forward

BUCKS NOTES  Thomas likely starter at power forward By TOM ENLUND

St. Francis - While Milwaukee Bucks coach Scott Skiles did not come out and say who would start at power forward in the regular-season opener Friday in Philadelphia, he did drop some pretty strong hints.

During the preseason, three players - Kurt Thomas, Ersan Ilyasova and Hakim Warrick - started at various times at power forward. The Bucks also think that Luc Richard Mbah a Moute can play there in certain situations.

Warrick started the final preseason game at power forward, finishing with eight points and two rebounds in 26 minutes in Friday's loss to Detroit at the Bradley Center. But the Bucks seem to have concluded that Warrick is more effective coming off the bench as he has done for much of his career. Warrick has been a reserve in 225 of the 307 games in which he has played in four years.

"It's difficult to start Hak because he's so good at what he does," said Skiles.

Warrick did not practice Tuesday because of what Skiles called a "neck issue" that was thought to be just a one-day thing.

Ilyasova started the first two preseason games at power forward but he, too, seems to play better when coming off the bench. In last Friday's game, he scored 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting and grabbed five rebounds in 22 minutes as a reserve.

Asked if Ilyasova was still in contention for the starting job, Skiles said: "Not really. I like what he does, too, and like I've said, that spot might be a little bit fluid as the season goes on. But I'd like him to really settle into something early in the season that he can feel comfortable in.

"Right now, the last few exhibition games, he's been very comfortable coming off the bench and knocking down his shots. A little more comfortable against the second-unit guys."

Which leads us to the veteran Thomas, who started five preseason games at power forward.

If Thomas knew what Skiles' plans were, he was not letting on after practice.

"I have no idea (who will start)," Thomas said. "I'm just like you, just waiting to find out. When we get to Philadelphia then I'll find out."

Thomas has worn several hats for the Bucks in the preseason as he has played power forward and center, and has started and come in off the bench.

"It's great," Thomas said of his role. "I'm just trying to get the rust off. It's been a long summer so there's a lot of buildup. Just continue to try and get my flow back up and everyday just try to improve and get better out there on the court.

"I've played all the positions. It's just figuring out the terminology. My whole career, I've played some (small forward, power forward and center). I've come off the bench. I've started. So it's just being around the game for a while and being able to adjust."

Crystal ball: Skiles said he is paying no attention to predictions that the Bucks will be one of the worst teams in the league.

"I've only actually read one thing," he said. "But I've been made aware of somebody picked us at this spot or that spot. I wouldn't pay attention to it either way."

Not the first time: Skiles was asked Tuesday if he had any history of starting rookies, as he plans to do with point guard Brandon Jennings.

"I've started rookies before," said Skiles. "We started Ben Gordon in Chicago (in 2004) and we went 0-9. Then we brought him off the bench and he won sixth man of the year and should have won rookie of the year.

"He should have won both. So it can be hit or miss."

Copyright 2009, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved. (Note: This notice does not apply to those news items already copyrighted and received through wire services or other media.)

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