Joe Harris has improved tremendously, and Brooklyn Nets have decision to make

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As the Post’s Brian Lewis states, Joe Harris is the poster boy for the Brooklyn Nets’ player development prowess. Two years after being released on the same day he underwent ankle surgery, Harris is playing out of his mind. And doing so on a nightly basis.

The 26 year old guard out of Virginia will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season. Thus General Manager Sean Marks and the Brooklyn Nets have a big decision to make. We first examine Joe Harris’s statistical improvement.

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Last season, in a career high 52 appearances Harris averaged 8.2 points and 2.8 rebounds on 42.5 percent shooting and 38.5 percent from three. That was in 22 minutes per night. This season his percentages have jumped to over 48 percent from the field, and 40 percent from three.  He has looked like a completely different player in 2018.

So far in 12 games in January, Harris is averaging 12.4 points and 3.6 rebounds on 55 percent shooting and an absurd 53 percent from range. He’s also been nearly automatic from the free throw stripe, at 86 percent, and 78 overall. His minutes in January are up to over 26 per game as well.

On December 29th he had a career high 21 points against the Miami Heat:

A look at his advanced stats reveal a 62.5 true shooting percentage, and a positive defensive win share as well. One of the biggest improvements for Harris this season has been his ability to drive to the basket. His two point shooting percentage has increased over 12 percent compared to last season.

The first option for Brooklyn is to try and trade Harris for a first round pick. You’d be hard pressed to find a team that couldn’t use a sharpshooter who plays with energy and can defend. The Nets would surely jump at the opportunity to get a lottery selection, but will realistically have to deal with a contending team.

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Another option is to offer Harris an extension this off season, since he may have turned himself into the Nets version of Kyle Korver. Two players who received multi year contracts appear to be good comps for what we could expect a deal to look like.

The first  is Tony Snell, who averaged 8.5 points and three rebounds on 45 percent shooting and 40 percent from three. Milwaukee gave him four years and $46 million. The second is Joe Ingles, who averaged 7.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists. He filled the stat sheet more than Harris, and shot 44 percent from three. The Utah Jazz gave him 4 years and $52 million.

Sean Marks will need to make a tough decision on the future of Brooklyn’s guards. There is certainly a potential logjam now that D’Angelo Russell is back. There is also the player option that Jeremy Lin has to decide on in the off season.

Harris also appears to be continuing to improve as the season goes on. So it doesn’t appear like any team would be paying for past performance. It’s not a bad problem to have, but it’s one that needs to be addressed with one way or another.

Knowing Marks and all the good he’s done so far for this franchise, he’ll make the right decision when the time comes.