It’s a variation on a theme, but it’s more than that too: Joe Harris talking about how his coach’s confidence in him changed his career track. Yes, a lot of players have spoken about the same , from D’Angelo Russell to Spencer Dinwiddie to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to Jahlil Okafor. And don’t forget who Jeremy Lin thanked for his emergence during Linsanity five years ago.
But Joe Harris’ situation is a bit different. Kenny Atkinson and his staff have helped Harris, and he, like the others, are grateful. But in Harris’ case, Atkinson needed to be convinced he would work out.
Atkinson told Fred Kerber this weekend about first impressions.
“A shot-faking fool,” Atkinson said. “Pump-faking open shots. We were like, ‘What is this guy?’ We couldn’t believe it because obviously we knew he had the ability to shoot it really well.”
Thne there was the interview. Harris, who had been taken 33rd in the 2014 NBA Draft, didn’t work out in Cleveland. He spent most of his two years there on the road back and forth to Canton, where the Cavs’ D-League team played. Then he got hurt and on the morning of his ankle surgery, Cleveland traded him to Orlando who in turn unceremoniously cut him. No NBA ring, no NBA job.
So Atkinson asked what went wrong in Cleveland and rather than say something like he got caught in a numbers game, he was straightforward.
“Most guys would say, ‘Ah, the system,’” Atkinson said. “He was, ‘I should have played better.’ Right then I knew I liked him.”
Atkinson liked Harris so much in fact that he told him that the Nets saw in him a Kyle Korver-type. For a guy who had just been sent packing by two teams, that was a big deal ... and the start of a confidence-building exercise.
“When you’re a shooter, a lot of it is based on just being confident, really,” Harris told Kerber. “When you’ve got a coach that believes in you and tells you that from the get-go — I don’t know if ‘empowers’ is the word — but it definitely gives you confidence.”
Harris is now more than Atkinson’s designated shooter, he’s his “hard hat” guy who can do little things and when needed big things too, like vs. Boston when he grabbed a 12 rebounds ... and marked his first double double.
Harris has had a number of career highs this season in points (21 vs. Miami in a big win down south); rebounds (12 vs. Boston Saturday); assists (seven vs. Washington in that blowout win last month) and 3-pointers (five vs. Boston in November).
And, notes Atkinson, no more of those shot fakes.
- How ‘shot-faking fool’ morphed into rounded Nets weapon - Fred Kerber - New York Post