This offseason is going to be an exciting one for the New Jersey Nets, but before we can move forward we must look back. Over the next couple of days, I am going to be looking at the Nets who will (most likely) be back, and review their year, from what they did well to what they didn’t. Today we are going to look at the Nets’ Most Disappointing Player, Devin Harris.
Pick & Roll Game
In my opinion, nothing is prettier than the pick and roll, and when Devin Harris is right, and he is running it, he is one of the best guards to run it, especially when it is run with Brook Lopez. Whenever I would see those two running the pick and roll, I would always ask myself, “How on earth are the Nets so bad?”
On each of these plays, the defense is focused on corralling Devin because of his speed, leaving Brook Lopez wide open. Devin has always had a very good feel of where Brook would be on his roll, and he always seems to hit him at the correct moment.
Devin Harris is one of the fastest point guards in the NBA, and that speed allows him to get plenty of opportunities in transition. When he is attacking with the correct mindset (more on this later), he is tough to stop when he gets a full head of steam going:
Looking For Contact
Last year, Devin Harris had a unique ability to draw contact and get himself to the free throw line. His FTR of .58 last year is very good, and all of those free points really helped his scoring rate. However this year, for whatever reason (Nets being much worse, no Vince, refs wised up) Devin didn’t get as many calls, and that is fine. The problem however is that Devin never really adjusted, and his shooting percentage suffered because of it. We have talked about this a ton in the past, so I am just going to quote myself here:
Last year, Devin was able to draw a ton of fouls (.58 FTR), but this year not so much (.44 FTR). Devin was really good at drawing contact by throwing his body into guys while shooting, almost not worrying about making the shot, just about getting hit. Last year when the fouls were getting called, those missed attempts would get wiped off in the statbook. This year, the refs seem to be “onto” Devin’s antics, and he isn’t getting as many calls. So these attempts where he just flings the ball at the rim are getting recorded as misses rather than resulting in foul shots.
In those two videos, making the shot was almost an afterthought for Devin. Drawing contact and getting to the line is a good thing, but if you are worried about that more than making the attempt, that is when it becomes a problem.
This subject has been talked about ever since Devin Harris arrived in New Jersey. In Dallas, Harris was considered a pretty good defender, but since becoming a Net, that reputation has taken a complete 180. It isn’t because he doesn’t have the skillset to be a good defender, far from it. Devin has great footspeed and an ability to stay in front of his man, but for whatever reason (poor technique, not wanting too, fatigue), he just doesn’t get it done.
On this play, Devin is leaning too far forward, so when Carlos Arroyo makes his move to the basket there is no way that Devin can keep up. He manages to take one last swipe at the ball, but Arroyo gets to the rim. That is another thing about Devin’s defense, he tries to rely on his hands far more than his feet, and that is a big problem. Anytime he reaches, his man usually takes advantage and blows right by him.
And here, as Jarrett Jack pulls back his dribble, Devin Harris gets out of his defensive stance and walks towards the basketball. Jack takes advantage of Devin getting too tall in his stance and he attacks the basket hard.
These aren’t elite level point guards taking it to Devin either. These are just your run of the mill points who are embarrassing Devin and getting to the basket. Devin really needs to spend the summer working on his defensive techniques and just focus more on the defensive end. Hopefully the addition of a few more scoring options allows Devin not to expand all his energy on the offensive end. That could help his defense as well.