Joe Harris, Wing
2016-17: 52 G, 21.9 MPG, 8.2 PPG, 42.5% FG, 38.5% 3PT, 2.8 RPG, 1.0 APG, 0.6 SPG, 0.2 BPG
Who is Joe Harris?
The fourth-year wing needs a nickname. For the memes. I called him “Second Form Kyle Korver” (this is a really sly Dragon Ball Z reference). Our managing editor emeritus, Devin Kharpertian, dubbed him “Role Starbucks” (that’s a Washington state reference).
— devin kharpertian (@uuords) March 8, 2017
In college, Virginia Cavalier fans called him “Joey Hoops” (his name is Joe and he plays basketball, sometimes called hoops.) Harris’ game may not be as faith-inducing as the last Joe to wear a Net uniform, but his consistency is welcome.
Heading into the 2016-17 season, Harris was an unknown. He spent a season and a half playing sparse minutes on a loaded Cleveland Cavaliers squad before being traded in the Cavaliers’ championship season. He only played five NBA games in the whole of 2015-16, breaking his foot midway through the year. Harris’ first two years in the NBA were essentially insignificant. So, it was a surprise when the Nets signed him to a guaranteed deal in the summer of 2016.
Previously, Kenny Atkinson compared Harris to Kyle Korver – a lofty comparison, especially for a player whose confidence dwindled after riding the bench his first two seasons. However, Harris worked his way into a contributing role for the helter-skelter Nets. In a Nets offense designed to rain threes from deep, Harris was a perfect fit. Harris may not have the same first-step speed as Korver, but he often scored in several Korver-esque sets. The 26-year-old excelled moving off the ball to set up perimeter jumpers, regardless of the lineup.
Harris was a key reserve for most of the season and was as reliable as one could get on a team marred by inconsistency. His 38.5 percent shooting from deep was the best on the team. He did not have the explosive scoring outbursts like Sean Kilpatrick, or the flashes of potential like Caris LeVert, but Harris was consistent. Whenever the Nets needed a big three, Harris seemed to answer the call. He shot 44.4 percent from deep in fourth quarters last season.
After the Bojan Bogdanovic trade, Harris earned a spot in the Nets’ starting lineup. However, his starting spot was short-lived, as his season ended early after suffering a combo concussion/shoulder injury against the Utah Jazz on March 3. He missed the Nets’ final 21 games. Still, Harris showed that he belonged on an NBA team.
Harris’ solid 2016-17 campaign earned him a spot on the prestigious Luke Walton All-Stars, Zach Lowe’s roster of the best role players in the league. Much like Keith Bogans before him, Joe Harris was a #ROLESTAR.
What will Joe Harris bring in 2017-18?
Harris will look to continue his rock-solid shooting this season. With a lack of a true interior scoring presence (Miss ya, Brook!), the Nets will have to rely on their perimeter scorers to manufacture buckets. Outside of Allen Crabbe, Harris is probably the best shooter on the 2017-18 Nets. His ability to fire away under any circumstance – off the dribble, moving off the ball, or spotting up – gives him enough versatility to keep defenses working to stop him.
Harris’ shooting touch was on display in Tuesday’s game against the Knicks, sinking 4 of 7 attempts from deep.
Although the Nets currently have a glut of solid wing players (Kilpatrick, LeVert, Crabbe, DeMarre Carroll, Isaiah Whitehead in doses), Harris’ shooting may set him apart from the rest. He essentially does all that’s asked for a seventh or eighth man at a passable level. Primarily, his shooting keeps defenses glued to the perimeter. Harris has started to work on a drive-and-kick game and is not a ball stopper either. On the defensive end, Harris is not Kawhi Leonard, but he tries hard. His bigger body helps him fighting through off ball screens.
While Atkinson may simply go with the best matchup game-to-game off the bench, Harris’ solid effort should be enough to earn minutes throughout the season.
Harris is a symbol of the Nets’ commitment to progress. Prior to his Nets stint, many had probably written him off as an NBA player. But through the work of Atkinson and the coaching staff, Harris flourished. His confidence, and in turn, his game grew. The Nets will need his rock-steady shooting stroke off the bench. Be like Joe Harris. Be a #ROLESTAR.
The Brooklyn Game 2017-18 Player Previews