Joe Harris is taken for granted.
He isn’t a flashy ball-handler, vocal personality or a jump-out-the-gym highflier with elite athleticism. He’s 26, not 19 or 21 or 22. His expiring $1.5 million contract doesn’t isn’t very exciting either.
What he’s always had is a good head on his shoulders and a great jump shot.
Still, his impact on this team has been pretty damn profound in the early going of the 2017-18 season, a contract year for the fourth-year NBA veteran from Virginia.
So far, he’s the only Net to reach double figures off the bench seven times. Not bad considering the Nets bench is the highest scoring bench in the NBA.
Before this season, he set out a personal goal: shooting 40% from three-point land So far, he’s at 38.5%, including a 5-of-11 display against the Celtics, all in 20 minutes.
“No,” he said, smirking when asked if he’s constantly checking his progress. “I’ll look at it at the end of the year.”
“I feel like in order to be an elite shooter in this league you’ve got to shoot it at a high clip and my goal coming into the season was to shoot above 40%,” he added, when asked why 40% is “the number.”
With the 19-point outburst, Harris elevates his average from 8.8 to 9.6 points per game this season, making him the team’s leading scorer among those who have yet to start a game, and second or third among off-the-bench regulars (depending on where you place Caris LeVert).
Being humble Joe Harris, he of course credits his teammates and the Kenny Atkinson system, which, for a sniper like Harris, blends perfectly with his style.
It’s like giving 50 Cent a Dr. Dre beat tape in 2003. Or something like that.
“The system is certainly built for guys that could shoot the ball,” Harris said. “We come off a lot of pin-downs, a lot of screens for shooters and just the overall emphasis of guys playing and moving without the basketball and turning down good shots for great shots. A lot of times it’s great for shooters because you always get the extra pass.”
It worked last night and not just for Harris. The Nets had a team-high 27 assists.
Harris knows his limitations. He isn’t one who is going to create off the dribble the way D’Angelo Russell does, be the Swiss army knife that Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is, or be the active rebounder that Trevor Booker is.
So he does what he’s always done – shoot, make smart plays, and defend a bit. It sounds boring, but is it ever effective.
“I’m not going to be breaking down anybody off the bounce one on one,” Harris admits. “I get offense through the other guys. You know when teams are collapsing on our facilitators and guys who could handle the ball, it allows me to get open shots. When we’re moving it and the ball is kind of popping around, that’s when guys like me, D-C (DeMarre Carroll) and Allen (Crabbe) can get good looks.”
And (mainly) because he’s a white guy who can shoot, the Kyle Korver comparison is an obvious one. Harris has said that he’s watched Korver’s Atlanta Hawks highlights, when Atkinson coached the Creighton product. Harris views Korver as one of the guys he can learn from when trying to thrive in this tailor made system.
“Someone like Korver who in Atlanta would run a very similar system so I definitely would watch his clips from his Atlanta days,” said Harris.
He’s got a way to go before matching Korver whose rights the Nets sold to Philadelphia (and Billy King) for $140,000 on Draft Night 2003. As of Wednesday morning, the 36-year-old sharpshooter is at 45.6 percent from three ... in his 14th season, looking like he can go on forever. Another goal for Harris.