Stats: 54 G, 54 GS, 15.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 7.6 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.1 BPG, .425 FG%, .300 3P%, .840 FT%, 18.05 PER
Preseason expectations: “Harris’ skills on offense are undeniable, and his production is an asset that the team can’t afford to miss out on. Unfortunately, his style of play is directly conducive to drawing contact with big bodies in the paint, so there’s an ever-present fear of injury looming for him. Figure he misses approximately 10 or 15 games this year. That said, with the new cast of players around him, it wouldn’t be unthinkable for his numbers to equal or eclipse the ones from his All-Star season two years ago. And if they do, look out for the Nets. His output is typically a barometer for the team’s success.
“Looming still, though, is the matter of whether he’ll clash with Johnson’s abrasive personality. It was no secret they had their share of tenuous moments in Dallas, and the thinking is that it could carry over to New Jersey. Harris will have to find a way to reconcile their relationship with his play on the basketball court, or the results could be volatile.”
The Good: While not nearly as impressive as he was during his breakout campaign in 2008-2009, Harris hasn’t had too shabby an offensive season. His most notable improvement has come as a distributor, and he has been finding teammates effectively for open shots; he has racked up several double-digit assist games this season, including posting consecutive single-game career highs with 16 and 18 assists at the end of January.
In addition, Harris has been much more durable this season. After playing in only 64 games all of last season, he has already appeared in 54 this year, so he has been able to stay on the court for most of the Nets’ games.
The Bad: Unfortunately, Harris’ game is so beholden to his penetration in the lane and getting to the free-throw line. While he has maintained his health, he is settling for a lot more jumpers and avoiding contact by driving the lane. As such, his shooting percentages are down, his free-throw attempts are down, and he’s just not scoring as much. Harris is one of the few offensive weapons the Nets have, and if he’s roaming around the perimeter, he’s not of much use in the offense.
He’s also averaging the fewest minutes per game since he left Dallas, so he’s not getting as much burn on the court to lead the offense.
The Extra: Despite myriad concerns about Harris’ focus with regard to the rampant trade speculation and potential conflicts with Avery Johnson, he has kept his head in the game and matured to the point that those are not distractions for him. Harris has proven that, for as long as he is around, that he has matured to the point that things like those will not affect him on the basketball court.
Final Grade: Harris hasn’t been the offensive force the Nets needed this season, but he hasn’t been terrible either. In fact, his advancement in the passing game is a good sign for the future as is his ability to stay healthy. Grade: B