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Overlook the importance of Joe Harris at your own peril

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Boston Celtics v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

On the heels of the many, many (worthy) pieces praising the great play of the Brooklyn Nets big three; I think it’s time we take a second to revisit the historic season that Joe Harris is having.

First, this: Joe Harris is the only Net to top 2000 minutes this season. No one is even close to hitting that number (Kyrie Irving is a little over 300 minutes behind him).

He’s been a rock for this team that has gone through 34 different starting lineups this season.

Basic stats: he’s shooting 48 percent from three, a career best, and has made 205 total threes. His 48 percent from three is leading the NBA, and would be a Nets single-season record if he holds it up.

When you have three players like Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving who are at their best when they have the ball in the hand and adept at collapsing defenses, it’s important to have a knockdown shooter like Harris to help keep the defense as honest as possible.

It’s no wonder he’s getting over 2.2 wide-open looks per game this season.

Harris is shooting a career-best 51.1 percent from the field. And he’s itching to shoot 50 percent from three, even though he’s not paying attention to the numbers (well, of course he wouldn’t admit it, but...):

Harris admits that the 50 percent milestone would be an achievement.

“It’d be awesome. You definitely join a rare club of guys. I think [Kyle] Korver and Steve Kerr, and then maybe Tim Legler are the only people that have ever done it. [A few other players—Detlef Schrempf, Jason Kapono, and Jon Sundvold—have managed the feat.] So yeah, that would be incredible. But two years ago I led the NBA in three-point shooting percentage and I got a trophy from the NBA. I don’t even have it. I don’t even know where the hell that thing is.”

WHAT?!?

“I don’t know. I think it’s in our facility—maybe in my locker or something.”

Kevin Durant said earlier in April that Harris is “getting there” when it comes to putting him on the same level of the Splash Brothers (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, two of the all-time great shooters in the history of the game ).

Nice.

He has a long, long way to go before we put him in the same league as Curry (note: he’ll never get there - although, Harris is shooting 43.8 percent from three on his career while Curry is shooting 43.4 percent. Just sayin’. But not really saying anything.), but he doesn’t need to be Steph. He needs to be John Paxson or Steve Kerr-like his his NBA Finals clutch 3-point shooting.

Who is going to get the most wide-open look when it comes down to the final shot and Harden, Durant, Irving and Harris are all on the floor?

Joe Harris gets the best look of the three.

Now, here’s where we might take a bite into sour apple (is that a thing?): Harris is only shooting 41.7 percent on clutch threes this season. However, Irving is just a notch above him at 42.3 percent, while Harden drops down to just under 39 percent on clutch threes this season. Kevin Durant? He’s shooting 33.3 percent on clutch threes.

All that said; with the game on the line and you have defenders with their backs turned on Joe Harris, sagging to try and cheat on Harden/Durant/Kyrie... who do you want taking that last shot?

I wouldn’t be mad if Harris took that shot.

Harris is top-3 on the Nets in Offensive Win Shares and Total Win Shares (note: yes, Kevin Durant has played so few games this season, he would likely been no. 3 if he had played a few more games. But, alas...) and he’s number four on the team in VORP (value over replacement player).

Again, this is all here to say that Harris is good. Really, really good.

And he’s important. More important to this team than he gets credit for.

So appreciate the season he’s having, because it’s easy to overlook how great he’s been for this team.

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