Not to pour salt into old wounds, but the Brooklyn Nets were an inch away from beating the Milwaukee Bucks in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals last season. Kevin Durant starred in one of the most impressive playoff performances ever, but it still wasn’t enough to advance to the NBA Finals.
What was missing? Well, for starters, Joe Harris.
Harris wasn’t literally missing. He played for 47 minutes in the final game of the series, but shot 3-for-9 from three-point range. Over the course of the 12 games that Brooklyn played in during the 2021 playoffs, Harris made 33 three-pointers. That’s an average of 2.75 threes per game, which isn’t exactly why the Nets gave him a four-year, $75 million contract in November of 2020.
Brooklyn did deal with injuries during the postseason last year, but were sorely missing Harris’ production from behind the arc. He began Wednesday two shots away from tying Jason Kidd on the Nets all-time three-pointers made list, and broke the mark during Wednesday’s game against the Miami Heat.
Why was it in doubt before tipoff, though? Harris has been missing in action. He shot just 34.5 percent from three in Brooklyn’s first four games of the season. This is a stark difference from the 48.6 percent that the shot from three during the 2019-20 season, which is why he got an extension last year. What happened to the Harris that the Nets grew to love?
Brooklyn Nets are in need of three-point specialist Joe Harris
Harris disappearing in the playoffs last year was supposed to be a thing of the past, but it’s continued into the start of the 2021-22 season. If it weren’t for Patty Mills, who has already knocked down 16 three-pointers in those first four games, there would be more fingers pointed at Harris right now. Mills has been great so far, but he’s been who Brooklyn needs Harris to be from long-range.
So far this year, there’s been only brief (and I mean very brief) glimpses of the Harris from years past.
His shooting slump has gone on for too long. It’s past time for Harris to get into a groove. If his low output continues, how long will it be until Steve Nash takes him out of the starting lineup? Better yet, will Harris find himself on the trading block? Would another team dare to take on the rest of his contract if he’s completely fallen apart?
The best possible outcome would be for Harris to turn back into his old self. It’s quite concerning that he wasn’t able to find a way to improve his shooting in the offseason. With Kyrie Irving out and James Harden struggling, the Nets can’t afford to let his woes go on for much longer. Harris is hurting the team on both ends of the court.
When he did pass Kidd on Wednesday, it felt a bit ironic. Harris is now the official three-point leader, but has at the same time failed to do his job in recent months, which is to shoot threes. There’s no exact reason that explains his downfall, but it’s puzzling. Harris has become one of the most frustrating players on the team and that’s saying something.