Name: Devin Harris
Weight: 190 lbs.
Birth Date: February 27, 1983
Birthplace: Milwaukee, WI
Drafted: 5th pick of the 1st Round in 2004 by the Washington Wizards
Experience: 6 years
On Offense: Devin Harris surprised most of the basketball world with his offensive transcendence after being traded to the Nets from the Dallas Mavericks, scoring at will in the backcourt alongside Vince Carter. While injuries and a lack of motivation led to a regression last season, expect his numbers to drift more toward their 2008-2009 peaks this season. Harris makes his living by making hard drives to the basket to get easy layups around the rim that he converts with admirable regularity. When he’s on, it seems that most every time he penetrates the lane he makes the basket, gets fouled, or both. His free-throw production is another important part of his game, too, and he generates a lot of freebie points from the line. Harris, however, is not a very good shooter, and most fans cringe when he takes a jump shot from beyond 17 feet or so. That said, he features in his repertoire a filthy pullback jumper in which he drives the lane, stops on a dime with a between-the-legs dribble, and takes an uncontested shot while his defender is left skidding into the stands. He tended to use it less last season, so hopefully he’ll find away to work it back into the mix. As a passer, Harris is no slouch, but he’s simply at his best when he has the ball in his hands and can take his man off the dribble. He and Brook Lopez do look very comfortable on the pick-and-roll, so look for Avery Johnson to emphasize that play call this year.
On Defense: Harris has all the tools to be a great defender, which he was in Dallas. He has quick feet and quick hands, allowing him to stay in front of the craftiest of guards and to intercept careless passes. When he came to New Jersey, however, he was essentially disinterested on this side of the ball — either due to a lack of energy from his increased duties on offense or just not caring. The hope is that his reuniting with Johnson will allow the former coach to whip him back into shape on defense with some stronger discipline and teaching methods.
Miscellaneous: Harris’ name has been bandied about in the trade rumors surrounding Carmelo Anthony (though the latest suggestions leave him out) after he withstood plenty of speculation about being dealt if the Nets landed the No. 1 pick and took John Wall. Through all that, though, Harris has remained upbeat in front of the press, disregarding any such discussion and constantly reinforcing his positivity about the team. It’s that kind of dedication and leadership that the Nets are going to need in order to improve this season.
Comment: 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.
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