Drafted by: Cleveland Cavaliers, No. 33 overall
After enjoying a rock-solid career at a rising Virginia program, sharpshooting Joe Harris now enters the NBA chapter of his career.
His stock rose dramatically after a brilliant junior year, and in hindsight, he probably should have left school during the summer of 2013. But regardless of his dip in production or perceived draft placement, he'll always have a smooth shooting stroke and smart playing style.
Harris isn't going to blow anyone away in the Association, but he can score from several spots on the floor and make the right plays within the system.
What exactly does he bring on each end of the floor?
|Statistics at Virginia|
This isn't the most physically impressive player you'll find, even out of the second-tier prospects.
Harris is 6'6.25" with a 6'6" wingspan, so he doesn't have much length at all on the wing, especially if he's going to spend time at small forward. His standing reach is 8'4", so he may have trouble shooting over many swingmen.
He's also not going to challenge too many foes athletically. Harris' max vertical tested at 33" during the NBA Draft Combine, and with that aforementioned length, he's going to have a tough time finishing over opponents or contesting them.
Fortunately, he turned in a respectable time of 11.11 in the lane agility drill, so his footwork combined with awareness should keep him afloat defensively.
Harris is a smooth sharpshooter, possessing deep range and reliable accuracy on his three-point attempts.
He was proficient from distance right from his freshman year at Virginia, and he maintained 41 percent shooting from beyond the arc despite a heavy workload every year. As a secondary scoring threat, Harris will bury his fair share of NBA triples when afforded the opportunity.
Inside the arc, Harris hits a respectable 39 percent of his jumpers (according to Hoop-Math.com) and looks comfortable on pull-ups and step-backs. When defenders close out hard in fear of giving up a deadly triple, he can attack off the dribble and make them pay with a drive to the paint.
His balance, fluidity and productivity as a shooter is the number one reason he's valuable moving forward.
He's not adept enough from a handling and facilitating standpoint to resemble a point guard. Harris is just a darn good passer.
In 2013-14, he averaged 3.2 assists per 40 minutes, and he did so fairly easily through the flow of the offense. He's got a great feel for where his teammates are, and he put them in good positions to score.
When you watch him, you can tell he's one of those players who sees plays happen before they develop, even if it's simple plays like backdoor passes or crisp tosses to cutters off the curl. Unlike many of his fellow draftees, he won't have a huge learning curve entering the NBA.
This may not fall under the category of traditional strengths, but Harris won't likely be a weak link defensively.
In addition to fundamental footwork and respectable foot speed, he is always in the right place at the right time. Richard Harris of NBADraft.net explains why he will be a competent cog in the right system:
"(He's) not an elite athlete, but is a fairly sticky defender," Harris writes. "Always has one eye on his man and the other eye on the ball, anticipates well, and avoids being picked off by screens by taking proper angles...Has great intangibles."
These hard-to-teach instincts will help his chances of finding his niche in the league.
The below-average athleticism and physical tools are the major points of concern.
And that's no small issue, either. Harris will be outclassed by explosive wings, he'll have to play perfect defense to stay in front of good scorers, and his lack of length will limit his scoring productivity.
He's also not too creative or shifty off the dribble, as he's not an advanced ball-handler or speedy slasher. Most of his buckets will come off catch-and-shoot chances, straight line drives or off-ball cuts.
Therefore, despite his tremendous feel for the game and shooting ability, he's got a fairly low ceiling.
Due to his high basketball IQ and NBA-ready shooting range, Harris could see minutes and make an impact in his rookie year.
How big of an impact will that be? Probably not seismic, but he could see 15 minutes per game and produce more efficiently than most NBA newcomers.
Harris is smart enough to evolve and take advantage of the little things as his career progresses, but he's not going to be dynamic enough to acquire a prominent role.
He could earn an important place in his squad's rotation, though. He will provide deadly shooting and occupy opponents' attention by running them off screens and stretching the floor in spot-up scenarios.
In addition, he will operate seamlessly with his teammates, and he won't make the kind of mistakes that coaches love to hate.
Ultimately, we can expect lots of good things from Harris, but nothing great.
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