Draft Week: Justin Harper

The 2011 NBA Draft will soon be upon us, and the Nets are starting to carve out a list of prospects. This week, Nets are Scorching takes a look at the players the Nets might select.

Justin Harper

College Stats: 31.8 MPG, 17.9 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 1.2 APG, 1.2 BPG, 0.6 SPG, 53.4 FG%, 79.7 FT%, 44.8 3P%

Analysts and pundits alike have connected Justin Harper’s name with New Jersey before, and it’s no secret why. His combination of shooting and athletic ability is certainly intriguing. In his senior year, Harper was able to raise his three-point shooting percentage to 49%, which is excellent even for the college three-point line. Harper has a very quick release, and his 6-9 frame means his shot will rarely get blocked at the next level. Harper is an athletic “shooting forward,” has decent ballhandling ability, and can beat defenders to the basket with his speed and a variety of moves & pump fakes.

In terms of weaknesses, Harper is a tweener. He’s quick, but doesn’t have lateral quickness. Even a guy like Corey Maggette could blow by Harper with relative ease. He has the length of a 4, but like Brook Lopez, he’s not bulky. If Harper wants to defend power forwards, he has to bulk up. On offense, his size is again a problem. He does not have an NBA-ready post up game and his rebounding could use some work.

Quotable: (On his improvement in his senior year)

“I think it’s just work ethic, man. I really changed my mindset, working out in the summer before my senior year, just approaching the game more as a professional, and just putting more time into getting better everyday and not wasting any time as opposed to just a normal college player who takes time off. I just focused and just the different level of confidence, a new level of confidence, that came going into my senior year. I think that was the major difference.”

Final Thoughts: Harper reminds me of a shorter Channing Frye type. Shooting is a skill that translates well to the NBA, and Harper has the potential to be a deadly shooter. However, Harper’s rebounding and defense need a lot of work, and he’ll also need to bulk up to get better. Despite this, he’s probably worth a look at #27. His workouts have been great, and he embodies many of the traits Billy King and Avery Johnson look for: he is a four-year college veteran, a hard worker, and a consummate professional. If he continues to work on his game with the same intensity, he could become an impact player at a position that the Nets lack depth in.