Gary Harris: Scouting Profile for Denver Nuggets' Draft Day Acquisition

Jonathan Wasserman@@NBADraftWassNBA Lead WriterJune 17, 2014

Mar 30, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Gary Harris (14) drives to the basket against Connecticut Huskies de Phillip Nolan (0) during the second half in the finals of the east regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Drafted by: Chicago Bulls, No. 19 overall pick

Traded to: Denver Nuggets for Doug McDermott

School: Michigan State
Height/Weight/Age: 6'4", 205 lbs
Age: 19 years old
Projected NBA Position: Shooting Guard
Pro Comparison: Randy Foye
Twitter: @thats_G_

Gary Harris returned for his sophomore year to fill a featured role after showing promise as a freshman in a supporting one. 

And he handled it well. Harris emerged as Michigan State's leading scorer and most consistent source for offense.     

He'll enter the NBA as one of the most prepared prospects in the field after two strong years playing competitive Big Ten basketball. 

Statistics at Michigan State



Harris has fairly ordinary physical tools for a 2-guard. He measured just 6'2.5" in socks with a 6'6.75" wingspan at the NBA combine. Harris is a good athlete, but not a great one. He's not overly quick or explosive—he made just 25 shots (at a poor 45.5 percent clip) at the rim in the half court all season, per DraftExpress

Keith Srakocic/Associated Press

He does have good footwork, which helps make up for a lack of size, strength and high-end athleticism. 

Harris' physical tools aren't the sharpest, but they're adequate. They shouldn't prevent him from being successful in the pros. His game is predicated on fundamentals, movement and an excellent skill level.



Perimeter Scoring

Harris can shoot, though he's more than just a shooter. He can generate offense on the perimeter in a variety of ways. 

One-on-one, he has the ability to separate into a jumper with a pull-up or step-back. And he can knock down shots rising up or fading away. 

Without the ball, he's a dangerous spot-up shooter with a high, quick release that he doesn't bring down. 

Harris shoots with a ton of confidence, a good sign moving forward. And he has plenty of range. He made 2.3 three-pointers a game this past season after hitting 1.9 per game as a freshman.

He also moves extremely well without the ball. Harris knows how to get himself open by rubbing off screens and losing his man through traffic. He's not a guy who needs to rely on one-on-one scoring. He can play without the ball and make shots within his team's offensive flow. 



Harris isn't great at creating holes or gaps in the defense, but when one is there, he can attack it and score on the move. He has some solid scoring instincts as a driver, with the ability to elude disruptive arms at the rim or use finesse to finish around them. 

Between the arc and the paint, he has a floater working as well. 

Though not a proactive attacker, Harris can capitalize opportunistically when a lane is available, whether it's with the ball as a line-driver or off it as a catch-and-finisher.



Despite lacking size and length, Harris is a disciplined, active and heads-up defender. He's not afraid to really get in his man's grill and bump him off track, whether he's a point guard or shooting guard. And he doesn't take plays off—Harris always looks engaged at the defensive end of the floor, where he shows high IQ and effort levels.

Quick to jump a passing lane or cut off an angle, Harris projects as a plus team defender in the NBA, which should play to his appeal as a two-way prospect. 



Harris doesn't get himself many easy buckets. Without a blazing first step or the ability to explode upward, he's forced to take a whole lot of low-percentage jumpers. 

He took more three-pointers per game (6.6) than two-pointers (6.4). And he only hit 35.2 percent of his threes, a number that reflects shot-making ability but too much inconsistency.

Not to mention he averaged just 4.1 free-throw attempts per game. It's going to be tough to produce consistent results with such a perimeter-oriented attack. 

As an undersized 2-guard who struggles getting to the basket, Harris' upside appears limited. However, he has excellent role-player potential when you take into account his refined skills and IQ. 



Immediate Projection

Harris' feel for the game and skill level should allow him to contribute as a rookie. He has the confidence, intelligence, shot-making ability and defensive mindset to hold his own from day one. I wouldn't bet on Harris taking over any games, but in a complementary role, he can provide some stability and 2-guard depth to the rotation. 


Long-Term Projection

Harris projects as a role player with starter potential. ESPN's Jeff Goodman tweeted Harris had some similarities to Bradey Beal, but I'm thinking more along the lines of a lower-end starter. Randy Foye, Wesley Matthews, Gerald Henderson—these are wing players relied on to contribute daily, though not in a go-to role. Harris isn't going to win any awards or compete for any scoring titles, but he has the tools and intangibles to last a long time by playing off what's around him. 


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