There is less than two weeks until the start of the NBA season, and that means it is time to start looking at the players who will be the main contributors on the Atlanta Hawks this year. This is the seventh installment of the player profiles, and up next we have the newly-acquired Devin Harris.
Harris was acquired from the Utah Jazz in a trade that was essentially about giving the two players involved (Harris and Marvin Williams) a much-needed change of scenery. Last season Harris saw his production fall to its lowest level in five years and didn’t seem to be working out in the Jazz offense. Williams on the other hand had been unable to live up to expectations for the Hawks, and both teams thought that the change might revitalize both players’ careers.
I’m almost certain that Harris is hoping the same thing.
After averaging a career-high 21.3 points in 2008-09 for the New Jersey Nets, Harris has seen his average drop every season since then. In fact, last season Harris averaged just 11.3 points, a 10-point drop from his scoring average during his all-star season (thanks in part to the third-lowest usage percentage of his career). Harris took the decrease in touches well however, and played with consistent effort every night, even when he wasn’t getting the shots he wanted.
High Point Of The 2011-2012 Season- With the Jazz fighting for a playoff spot as fiercely as a Eddy Curry fights for extra Jello at Luby’s, Harris was able to return from an ankle injury and score 28 points in a late-season win against the Golden State Warriors. After having to watch the Jazz lose the previous game from the bench, Harris played exactly how you would expect an all-star to when his season is on the line.
In 39 minutes, Harris shot 8-13 from the field and knocked down five three pointers. He also hit seven-of-his-eight free throws and added five assists without a single turnover. This high level of play proved to be the trend in April, as Harris played his best basketball during the final month of the season, averaging 16.3 points during the month’s 12 games.
Low Point Of The 2011-2012 Season- Coincidentally enough, Harris played arguably his worst game of the year against the Hawks (in what may have been the most exciting game of the year in the NBA).
In a 139-133 quadruple-overtime thriller that ended in a Hawks victory, Harris shot just 4-18 and missed all seven of his three-point attempts (including a potential game-winner). Although he did record a double-double with 10 assists, Harris scored just 11 points in 54 minutes and had trouble finding any rhythm in the seemingly-never-ending game.
3 Reasons Hawks Fans Should Be Happy:
1. Who would have thought that the Hawks would be able to trade Marvin Williams for a (former) all-star point guard? For all the years that Hawks fans have pissed and moaned about taking Marvin over all-star point guards Deron Williams and Chris Paul, the acquisition of Harris should make at least some Hawks fans giddy. Sure, Harris’s lone all-star appearance came in 2008-2009, but the fact remains that the Hawks were able to get an all-star point guard out of their 2005 second overall pick eventually.
2. The Hawks are emphasizing a newly-improved pace-pushing offense this season, and Harris should definitely be able to keep up with the increased speed. In fact, Harris actually holds the Guinness World Record for “Fastest Man with a Basketball”, after he dribbled the length of the court in 3.9 seconds during the all-star festivities in 2009.
While this may be more of a gimmick than anything, as it seems to be sort of an obscure record choice, (something along the lines of Rob & Big’s world record spree) it does prove that Harris has above average speed. The Hawks will definitely be looking to take advantage of their roster’s quickness this season, and Harris’s agility should allow the Hawks to do just that.
3. While Harris is primarily a point guard, he has shown flashes of scoring in his career that make it plausible and possible for him to play extended minutes at the two-guard position. While his relative lack of size may make that tough to do against some bigger two-guards, it is definitely an option that Larry Drew can consider. Flexibility and athleticism will be the key to the Hawks success this year, and Harris will be a main part of that.
Strengths- Harris is an underrated three-point shooter who seems to have found his range again in Utah (even if he struggled in other areas). While his three-point shot is inconsistent at times, when it is on it opens up the other areas of his game exceptionally. He can get to the basket seemingly at will and also draws fouls very well. He can score off pick-and-rolls or isolations, and moves well without the ball. His long arms help disrupt passes even when he is a step behind on defense, which should lead to a decent amount of steals. He is a solid passer and has good court vision for cutters heading towards the basket.
Weaknesses- Harris’s defensive effort has lacked since his departure from Dallas. Whether that was due to the attitude in New Jersey or the defensive style of play in Utah is unknown, but his defense has looked noticeably worse in recent years. While he is able to deflect a good amount of passes, he gets beaten off the dribble at a good rate (not at a Jamal Crawford rate though). He settles for too many pull-up jumpers, even at times even when he has the ability to breeze past his defender.
2012-13 Season Outlook- This may very well be the most important season in Harris’s career, and it will be interesting to see if the change of scenery really does make a difference for him. This is the final year of his contract, and after a disappointing showing last year it will be on him to prove that he is worth a big investment from the Hawks (or another team). The Hawks are seemingly overloaded with guards, but Harris may be the most talented one on the roster and will see a ton of time even if he isn’t in the starting lineup. Harris should see time at both guard positions, and whenever he is on the court together with Jeff Teague or Lou Williams it should be extremely exciting to watch.
2012-13 Projected Role- Harris can easily step into the starting lineup depending on how Larry Drew wants to matchup against a certain team, though he can be just as dangerous coming off of the bench. I think Harris is a lock to receive a consistent 25 minutes per game, regardless of whether or not he starts.
2012-13 Projected Stats- A slight increase on his averages from last season, a shooting slash line of around 45/37/80, a re-energized style of play, and tons of “I don’t miss Marvin” moments for Hawks fans.
Stay on the lookout for the rest of the 2012-13 Atlanta Hawks player profiles, as I will continue to go down the depth chart one by one until every player has been profiled. Below is my projected depth chart, though what the Hawks decide to do is anyone’s guess currently.
PG- Jeff Teague / Devin Harris
SG- Anthony Morrow / Louis Williams / John Jenkins
SF- Josh Smith / Kyle Korver / DeShawn Stevenson
PF- Al Horford / Ivan Johnson / Mike Scott
C- Zaza Pachulia / Johan Petro / Jordan Williams (Waived)
Up next is Kyle Korver.