Monday, June 23, 2014

Timberwolves Draft Profile: Gary Harris

With the NBA Draft on the horizon, it is time to take a look at who the T-Wolves could select. Leading up to the event we will be doing prospect profiles on potential players the Wolves could end up taking with the 13th pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. Today, we are taking a look at Gary Harris out of Michigan State.

Like obtaining superstars, Three and D guys are key to winning NBA titles. While obviously not as important, they are a puzzle piece every team with championship aspirations need. And if Gary Harris somehow manages to fall to the Timberwolves, the T-Wolves would be able acquire a puzzle piece that, if it panned out, could play a large role in the franchise’s future success. So here’s to hoping that the kid from Fishers Indiana can find himself one day fishing in the land of 10,000 lakes (I can’t believe I got paid to write that sentence either. Also, I apologize for the ‘fishing’ word play – it’s something I really need to cast aside and stop baiting myself into).


His shot – and no, not to be confused with his shooting (stats say it isn’t terrific), but scouts really like his shot. Similar to Bradley Beal a few years ago, while the shooting percentage isn’t bonkers (both players shot less than 36% from three in their final season of college ball before entering the draft), scouts think, that like Beal, Harris’ stroke has the potential to make him a three-point marksman.

Also his defense is terrific. He can man up one on one just as well as he can disrupt passing lanes and come up with steals (he averaged just around 2 steals a game last year). From Draft Express:
“Harris is also an excellent defender, capable of guarding both backcourt positions. He has outstanding fundamentals on this end of the floor, always getting in a low stance and putting very good effort in, and showing excellent awareness both on and off the ball. A physical player who uses his strong frame well, Harris has very good anticipation skills, which allows him to get in the passing lanes regularly and even come up with an occasional block.”
Meanwhile, on the other side of the floor, while he isn’t great at creating his own shot - especially when going at a guy one on one - he can do so occasionally in a pinch using his strong frame. That said, he supplements his average shot creation ability with the ability to run off of screens with precision. Combine that with his beautiful stroke, and you got yourself a dangerous half court player on the offensive end.

Despite just being 19 years old (he turns 20 in September), the kid, according to scouts, already has a high basketball IQ (scouts point to his low turnover rate as evidence). With being so young and already having such significant strengths in his game solidified, one wonders just how good the kid could become if he were to work on his weaknesses. And speaking of which…


He is an average athlete with average physical tools. Like his height (6’5’’ on a good day) and wingspan (6’7’’), his explosiveness doesn’t wow you.  It becomes evident in isolation situations and when tries to drive that this is a weakness in his game. Plus, his inability to find success when driving and in isolation is only compounded by the fact his ball handling skills, like his athleticism, is average at best.

Due to these limitations Harris struggles to get to the rim. Worse though, is that when he does get to the rim, stats show that he more often than not fails to convert. From Draft Express:
“He converted only 25 shots at the rim in the half court in 35 games this season, and did so on middling efficiency, hitting 45.5% of his shots at the rim in these settings, a very poor rate.” 
Because of this he has to rely heavily on his jump shot – which isn’t necessarily an issue, given the fact his shot is one of his game’s greatest strengths. However, the issue here is, is that despite having a high basketball IQ, he often settles for long twos and other low percentage shots.

Final Word

Considering his high b-ball IQ, and the fact the kid is coachable, the shot selection issue should be an easy fix. And considering how young he is, his ball handling skills can be improved with training. Obviously his average athleticism and physical attributes are always going to be an issue, but improving his dribbling should help him develop into a better driver and iso player. While driving and isolation is never going to be his strong suit, hopefully with some improved ball handles, it won’t be as much of a weakness.

As Wolves fans can tell you from their experience with Ricky Rubio, Harris’ inability to finish effectively at the rim is worrisome. In fact, this is the weakness in his game that has me the most concerned.

Regardless of that apprehension, I would still love it if the Wolves drafted him. He and Rubio would make a great defensive backcourt tandem. Meanwhile, minus the whole finishing shots at the rim thing, it sounds like a match made in heaven on the offensive end. I mean, if you’re a sharp shooter who can run off of screens but struggles to create your own shot one on one, you want to play with Ricky. He’ll create shots for you. The two would be perfect together.  Let’s hope Harris is still on the board so the T-Wolves can drop him a line and reel him in (I promise that’s my last fishing pun).

Next up we will take a look at Jabari Parker’s running mate, Rodney Hood. Another sharp shooting wing the Wolves could use.

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