Joe Harris, guard
2015-2016: 3.0 MPG, 0.6 PPG, 0.4 APG, 0.6 RPG, 0.0 SPG, 0 BPG, .250 FG%, .250 3P%, 0 FT%, .694 TS%, .375 eFG %, 5 G
Who is Joe Harris?
Of the ten new faces the Brooklyn Nets added this offseason, they forewent the fruitless pursuit of a star in free agency, instead signing a mix of role-playing veterans and youngsters looking for a second chance. One of those gems that general manager Sean Marks hopes to have unearthed is Joe Harris, a 6’6 guard most well-known for playing on a team with LeBron James. Thanks to the Cleveland Cavaliers’ relentless chase for a ring, Harris quickly went from college stud to a fringe NBA player. Taken by Cleveland with the 33rd pick in the 2014 draft, Harris has only played a minor bench role in his 56 career games, seeing mostly garbage-time minutes along the way.
Unfortunately, the 2014 ACC Tournament MVP and former ACC First-Teamer did not get an opportunity to carve out a role for the Cavaliers as the stakes were raised when James decided to return to Cleveland just after Harris was drafted. Thusly, instead of being developed slowly and cautiously, James’ re-signing sent the second round pick to the end of the bench. Originally behind Dion Waiters and Shawn Marion on the depth chart, Harris saw his opportunities wane further when Cleveland acquired JR. Smith and Iman Shumpert midway through the 2014-15 season.
However, this isn’t entirely a signing out of left field as their addition of assistant general manager Trajan Langdon, former director of player administration and basketball operations on that aforementioned Cavaliers team, indicates that there was a strong belief behind the move.
Harris didn’t make much of an impact last season, playing in just five games and averaging three minutes per contest. Relegated to the bench behind Smith and Shumpert, Harris bounced between the parent club and the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers’ D-League affiliate. A broken right foot ended his season in January and the Cavaliers traded him to the Orlando Magic a week later, where he was waived almost immediately.
Up until the Nets signed him, it looked as if Harris would have to prove his worth in the D-League, but in the modern NBA — particularly so for the listless three-point shooting Nets of 2015-2016 — there will always be room for shooters.
What does Harris bring to the table?
Harris is a shooting guard and his best quality is, well, shooting. Additionally, Harris defends his position at an average clip despite a seeming lack of athleticism as well, meaning that he’s a nice option off the bench when the Nets need to stop the inevitable bleeding. He doesn’t make many highlight-reel worthy defensive plays, having averaged less than a block and a steal in his four-year college career, but he holds his own and is certainly not a liability.
Harris’ bread and butter is, you guessed it, his three-point stroke. While he’s a decent finisher from inside the arc — he shot 45% from the floor at the University of Virginia — Harris attempted more three-pointers than two-pointers in college and hit them at a 40% clip. Of course, that has yet to translate to the NBA, but given his somewhat early preseason success, that may just be due to an overall lack of opportunities.
The Harris Highlight Reel Theater:
The Bottom Line
The Joe Harris signing was originally one with little fanfare — the definition of a low-risk, high-reward situation. He was signed at the veteran’s minimum and it seemed as though if someone with an unguaranteed contract were to make the team it would be at his expense. The preseason has changed all of that, though. During the initial training camp workouts Kenny Atkinson spoke of him highly saying:
“Joe Harris has been a bit of a surprise. I liked him when he played in Cleveland. (He) comes from a defensive (minded) program at UVA with Tony Bennett. We brought him in and you don’t know if it’s a surprise or if he’s getting an opportunity. He fits our style of play.”
After getting a ringing endorsement from the head coach and performing well in some limited preseason action, Harris has positioned himself to be an integral part of Atkinson’s rotation this campaign. With other reclamation projects like Anthony Bennett and Justin Hamilton on board, Harris could be a key cog in the Nets’ new moneyball-esque roster that Marks has built.