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For Brooklyn Nets and Justin Harper, a second chance?

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Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Back in June 2011, Justin Harper had just come off a breakout year and solid NCAA playoffs for the University of Richmond. He was projected to be picked in that netherworld of the draft -- late first, early second.  Hoopshype, as part of its draft coverage, interviewed him and asked where he thought he might wind up.

"I think that the workout I felt really good about was with the New Jersey Nets," he told Hoopshype's Raul Barrigon. And indeed he was on the Nets short list for the 27th pick that year, but Billy King went with MarShon Brooks instead and Orlando took Harper at No. 32, right after Bojan Bogdanovic.

Harper played only 14 games that season with the Magic and after that, he became a basketball vagabond, playing in Israel and Italy, but every summer, he came back to the U.S. to play in the summer league, doing stints with the Magic, Pacers, Cavaliers, Pistons and Suns.  Then, at the last minute, the Nets signed him to a non-guaranteed deal.

Now, there's a chance he could stick around Brooklyn, although as Tim Bontemps writes, it's unlikely.  Two things are in his favor: his performance ... and the Nets injury-riddled front court.  The 6'10" stretch 4 (who can play a little 5) was the only Net to play in all six preseason games. He averaged 9.0 points and 4.7 rebounds, shooting 47.4 percent from deep, in nearly 20 minutes per game. He admits his defense needs improvement.

"I think I did," said Harper, when asked if he thought he had proved himself. "Obviously the last two years I was overseas and stuff, but it’s something that you kind of come into your own experience," he told Bontemps. "And, obviously, with maturity and experience, it helps bring that along, but I’m just trying to confide in myself and remind myself that I’m here for a reason."

Now, all he has to do is survive another five days.