I’m going to pull two sets of numbers on Devin Harris to help set the table for this post:
Points per game: 21.3
Field Goal %: 44%
Assists per game: 6.9
Free Throw Attempts Per Game: 8.8
Field Goal: 43%
Free Throw Attempts: 7.0
Obviously, these two sets of numbers are not identical, but they are comparable, and that’s a good thing. The first set are Devin’s final season numbers from his breakout 2008-09 campaign, and the second set details Devin’s performance in the month of February, which includes seven games since he missed one due to injury.
Since the beginning of the season, where there was a noticeable decline in his numbers, I’ve been one of Harris’ harshest critics, questioning if last season was a fluke, or if he was capable of carrying a team offensively without another all-star backcourt-mate like Vince Carter. He still has his flaws as a player, and his shot selection late in games could you leave you scratching your head, but the fact that he’s getting his scoring, field goal percentage and free throw attempts closer to last year’s levels is a good sign. What makes me most optimistic about this stretch of play is that the light seemed to go on after he missed four and a half games with his wrist injury. Perhaps Devin’s finally starting to regain his touch now that he’s a little more healthy.
Adding a little more credence to the idea that Devin’s wrist injury was affecting his scoring ability is his field goal percentage on long twos and threes the past month. Harris is shooting 42 percent combined on all jump shots from 16-feet and out (including threes). He’s shooting 32 percent on just his three pointers in February. Compare that to earlier this season, like in December, when Devo was atrocious from beyond the arc, shooting 22 percent on 11-50. A Devin Harris who can mix in an occasional jump shot with his usual attacking of the basket, is a dangerous offensive player.
What we now need to see is how much longer Devin can keep this play up for. It’s without a doubt, his most prolonged stretch of good offensive basketball this season. I’m still waiting to see if he’s capable of that transcendent game where he’s unstoppable. He had his fair share of those last season, like his 47 point, 8 assist game against Phoenix on 11/30/08 or his 41 point, 13 assist performance against Dallas on 12/19/08. Harris looked capable of one of those nights early on during Wednesday’s game against Miami, scoring 12 points in the first quarter, but he sat an incredibly long stretch between the first and second quarters, and when he returned, he seemed to have lost that scoring touch. I think once Devin mixes in one of those “big” games where he’s the best offensive player on the floor, I can more safely conclude that the Harris of old is “back.”