Only eight players in NBA history have achieved a 50/40/90 campaign, can Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets make it nine?
Here’s something the vast majority of Brooklyn Nets fans know: Joe Harris is ridiculously efficient. Last year, via teamrankings.com, he placed fifth in the NBA in true shooting percentage (which was tied for best amongst guards, with a guy named Stephen Curry) and the year before that he finished 7th.
He’s reliable, he’s efficient and he’s incredibly productive; however, that’s yet to result in a heralded 50/40/90 campaign, can next year change that?
Well, let’s first look at his scoring versatility, which is—to some—shockingly diverse. You see, unlike your stereotypical elite spot-up three-point shooter, Harris has multiple avenues in which he can score the ball.
For one, he’s not afraid to place the ball on the deck and beat you off the dribble. He’ll take smaller guards—using his 6’6, 218-pound frame—to the low block and overpower them for the relatively easy basket. He doesn’t solely hoist up perimeter jumpers, he’s a smart scorer.
He knows when the defense is overplaying him beyond the perimeter and he has a lane in which to operate. You have to respect his ability to torch you from distance and that’s where his overall offense can open up.
Here’s an example against now new teammate, DeAndre Jordan, who pinches hard going to the left corner while Harris easily passes him and finishes with the crafty up-and-under move.
When looking at this field goal percentage from different areas, you begin to get the idea that’s he much more than just a one-dimensional player in a half-court setting (via basketballreference.com).
However, and though not necessarily a fault, he’s heavily reliant on the playmaking acuity of his teammates. Last year he was the beneficiary of 10.1 passes a game from all-star teammate, D’Angelo Russell, which was the most passes Russell threw to any of his teammates (second-highest being Jarrett Allen, with 8.5 passes per game).
Their chemistry benefitted both parties, 1.8 assists of Russell’s career-high 7.0 assists per game came from Joe Harris—who shot 51.8 percent from the field in those instances. However, Russell is in San Francisco and Harris has a new point guard, but that doesn’t mean that those numbers aren’t replicable.
Kyrie Irving‘s playmaking abilities have improved as he career has progressed, last season he averaged a career-high in both assists (6.9) and assist to turnover ratio (2.65).
His ability to break a defense down by using dribble-drive penetrations while kicking it to the outside corners will benefit Harris, as will his strength of keeping the ball alive while probing the defense and finding a teammate cutting (which Harris does quite a bit of). Here’s an example of Irving’s ability to probe and suck the defense in which opens a lane for cutting teammates for easy baskets.
With Harris’ off-ball movement, this could prove a match made in heaven. Likewise, fellow teammates Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert aren’t shabby in their own rights in distributing the rock and have built a rapport with Harris over the past couple of seasons.
He’ll get his looks within this new offensive dynamic, and given that his career field-goal percentage is a rather stellar 48.1 percent, it’s not this inconceivable notion that he’ll hover above the 50 percent mark.
What’s somewhat of an anomaly in Harris’ make-up is his free throw shooting. For a man that shoots above 40 percent from distance for his career and led the entire league in three-point shooting percentage a year ago with 47.4 percent, his free throw percentage lingers in the low 80’s.
Though it’s actually not uncommon to be a great three-point shooter and an average-to-bad free throw shooter (here’s looking at you, J.R. Smith) it’s a bit surprising given the fluidity of Harris’ shot that he’s not amongst the elite in the NBA in this regard.
Mechanically, his shot is a thing of beauty, and the results are usually in favor when he releases it.
Perhaps it’s due to the low sample size, he only got to the line an average of 1.8 times per contest a season ago and that was a career-best for the 27-year-old. It’s difficult to get in a rhythm when you don’t get to the charity stripe consistently; this would actually act as the major deterrent in achieving a 50/40/90 season for Harris.
Now, lastly, let’s zone in on what Harris does best, shoot the three-ball. As I mentioned earlier, Harris is adept at moving without the basketball and that attribute combined with his shooting gravity make him one of the NBA’s deadliest marksmen.
He shot an average of 5.1 three-point field goals a season ago, and though that may not match J.J. Redick‘s 8.0 attempts, Klay Thompson‘s 7.7 attempts, or even Buddy Hield‘s 7.9 attempts, he’s incredibly efficient in the looks he receives.
Last year, Joe Harris shot 48.9 percent on 4.3 catch and shoot opportunities, which was the highest percentage of any player with at least 4.0 attempts. Likewise, he shot 45.0 percent on pull up three-pointers, but the sample size in that regard was significantly smaller, 0.8 attempts a contest.
He shot 51.7 percent from the corner and 98.9 of this three-pointers were assisted—which plays back into his need of playmakers on the floor to provide him with his looks.
If his volume of three-point attempts were to increase, it’s still feasible to say he hovers above the 40 percent mark as his efficiency has increased with every passing season.
Whatever the case, this can act as another storyline to monitor as the season progresses in what already is sure to be a very eventful 2019/20 season for the Brooklyn Nets. Were only a seven percent increase in free throw percentage away from Harris etching his name in basketball lore forever!