The Nets big free agent move this summer was not signing Ed Davis, although that’s looking like a great deal. Nor was it Shabazz Napier or Treveon Graham. It was re-signing Joe Harris to a team-friendly $16 million over two years.
And Harris is making it look like a bargain. Other than the Nets first game vs. Detroit, Harris has been on fire. Make that FIRE! Since starting 1-of-7 from deep, the 27 year old has gone 12-of-15 beyond the arc or 80 percent to build his three-point shooting number to 59.1 percent. He’s also averaging 14.8 points a game ... and starting.
With Allen Crabbe missing games at the end of preseason and start of regular season, Kenny Atkinson has inserted Harris in the Nets’ three-point heavy starting lineup. And the Nets coach is showing no inclination of changing the formula.
Harris has also become the poster child for the Nets positionless brand of NBA basketball. Who’s the small forward? Who’s the shooting guard? Et cetera, et cetera.
“I don’t think it’s clearly defined,” Harris told Greg Logan who asked about what positions he and Caris LeVert play from game-to-game, sometimes play-to-play. “The matchups vary. It’s based off personnel. I typically guard guys that are more similar to how I’m playing, guys that are moving around a lot without the ball, like Tim Hardaway, Bojan [Bogdanovic].”
Harris of course is more than just the poster child for positionless basketball. He’s also the poster child for the Nets success at development. On January 12, 2016, after playing five games for the Cavaliers, he was unceremoniously traded to Orlando on the day he underwent foot surgery to remove an extra bone in his foot. The Magic didn’t even keep him a day, waiving him practically while he was under anesthesia!
The Nets gave him a new lease with Atkinson in his free agent pitch that July that he saw Harris as the Nets’ Kyle Korver.
Harris knows he can’t keep up this pace. But then again, he ain’t bad at driving to the rim either. As Logan points out, he actually led the NBA with a 62.7 percent make rate on drives.
“For me, I got good looks in Detroit, but sometimes, you have games where you’re feeling good and you’re knocking them down and other games where you might feel good, but they’re just not dropping,” Harris said. “ ... There have been lots of times in my career where you go four or five games and feel like you can’t hit anything. And you also have the exact opposite.”
He did last night.
- Nets forward Joe Harris finding his range and making impact early this season - Greg Logan - Newsday