Joe Harris had the best game of his four-year NBA career Tuesday vs. the Celtics: a career high-tying 19 points on a career high-tying five three pointers. It was his seventh game in double figures off the bench. Good stuff, but he hasn’t quite been as consistent as everyone would like.
As CBS Sports reported post-game...
He has shown flashes of production so far this season, but has only strung together consecutive games of double-figure scoring once. Consistent production hasn't been there, but Harris has shown the ability to knock down a handful of three-pointers every few games.
Still, from day one, Kenny Atkinson has been a big Joe Harris fan. The reason is simple.
Harris knows what he is, and what he’s not, which is hard not to like. He also has a familiarity with how Atkinson’s offensive system functions, and how it’s beneficial to a man like Harris, who’s a skilled sniper.
“It’s equal opportunity. He does have a little bit more corporate knowledge (of the offense),” Atkinson said of Harris, whom the Nets signed prior to the 2016-17 season. “He’s been in the system a little longer. He struggled a little last year. He’s starting to figure out where he can get his shots. I think that’s huge. Ideally in this offense, we do it as a group and it’s different guys every night.”
So much, Atkinson says, is about being professional.
“It’s his skill work. What he did this offseason was – talk about offseason participation – he was at the top of the class,” Atkinson said, raving. “Those guys, Caris (LeVert). They just worked their tails off. But I also think it helps he knows what we’re doing. Continuity is huge in development. I’m sure his comfort level if you asked him is a lot better than say the middle of the year this year.”
Harris talked after the Boston game about how much the offense suits him, but traveled more in-depth about gaining a level of comfort within the system.
Even though it’s a tailor made situation for a sharpshooter, even he had an adjustment period, growing pains, and still struggles in moments to this day. He’s hoping to adjust and improve to meet the team’s, goals.
“I think it’s just easier making reads throughout the offense. You kind of know where you’re supposed to be on any given play,” said Harris on Wednesday. “It’s all about making reads. You could be a little more aggressive looking for shots for yourself as a shooter once you get comfortable within the offense.
“I would say when you’re first starting out and you’re first getting incorporated into the offense, you’re trying to make sure you’re running the things properly and once you get more adjusted and comfortable in the offense, you can start doing counters to what the primary options are.”
Harris talked as well about what those developments and shifts in mentality have entailed over his time in Brooklyn.
“You might not be as aggressive in terms of coming off screens on shots for you. You might be coming off of screens to catch the ball and reverse it, or get into another set within the offense,” he said.
“Getting more comfortable and having more confidence in what you’re doing, you’re able to switch your mentality a little bit to be more aggressive so you’re coming off of screens with the mentality that you’re going to shoot it rather than catching it and making a decision on what do you want to do, if that makes sense.”
Now it’s time for consistency and elevated results to improve something else in Harris’ game: confidence. As any shooter knows, it’s not just skills.
“I think your confidence just goes up when you know your role and it’s solidified, and you know what’s expected of you,” Harris said. “Kenny and the rest of the coaching staff, constantly reiterate to us what roles are and what we’re supposed to do.
“My jobs are to come off screens to shoot the ball, and if I don’t shoot the ball, I usually come out. I’m really just trying to focus on doing my part for the team. I’m not trying to do anything I know that I can’t. Like, I’m not trying to handle the ball a whole lot, facilitate and things like that. I’m just trying to go out and create space for the guys that we have that we know are our primary ball handlers so they could facilitate.”
Like we said, he knows what he is, what he isn’t.