Recent Brooklyn Nets discourse has been dominated by discussion about the superstar trio of Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, but they have assembled quite the collection of role players to aid them in their pursuit of a championship, and former Cleveland Cavaliers second-rounder Joe Harris is up there.
Harris is averaging 14.2 points this year, and while those numbers are slightly down from last season, the fact that he is still getting that high volume of shots despite the parade of star talent around them is simply astonishing considering how all three of Brooklyn’s scoring leaders dominate the ball.
Bringing back Harris was a bit of a risk for the Nets, as signing a somewhat limited defender to a four-year, $75 million contract to be, at best, a fourth scoring option raised a few eyebrows. Sean Marks, who has been getting more aggressive with each passing season, knew what Harris could bring to the table, and the former Virginia star is proving his quality.
Harris is shooting 48% from 3-point range this season, which could give him his second 3-point percentage title in three seasons. That skill when it comes to sniping from long-range has proven to be an invaluable asset, and it should help keep the Nets competitive in what is becoming a very deep Eastern Conference.
Joe Harris has proven the Brooklyn Nets right.
Per Cleaning the Glass (subscription required), the Nets are averaging 134 points per 100 possessions with Harris on the floor this season. While that mark is the highest of his career, the fact that he has ranked in the 96th percentile or higher in three of the last four seasons says a lot about his style of play.
Harris is not the best on-ball defender in the world, but he’s shown the required effort and tenacity on that end to hold his own. His defense has improved since the displays he put up in his first few seasons.
The Nets could’ve included him in the Harden deal, and doing so could’ve helped them retain players like Jarrett Allen considering how much money would be sent the other way, but they chose to hold on because they value what he brought to the table. Harris could’ve gotten an even bigger contract if he was back on the free-agent market this offseason.
While the Nets’ future will inexorably be tied to their combination of superstars, they need role players to make this engine run. Harris is one of the best role players in the game, and he chose to take a lesser scoring role in Brooklyn. Marks has to be thrilled with the performance of the former second-rounder this year.