It’s not very often an undrafted rookie makes a significant impact for the Los Angeles Lakers, but forward Elias Harris could be an exception to the rule.
Signed to a two-year deal after an outstanding Summer League performance, Harris was brought aboard to help the Lakers heal following the loss of Metta World Peace, Antawn Jamison and Earl Clark. While it might take some time for the Germany native to become a familiar face for the purple and gold, he’s the type of underrated, cap-friendly talent the Lakers need right now.
Measuring in at 6’7’’, 240-pounds, the 24-year-old Harris averaged 10.2 points and 5.6 rebounds in five Summer League appearances with the Lakers. He also shot 44.7 percent from the field and impressed GM Mitch Kupchak enough to earn significant guaranteed money with his new deal.
After spending time with the German national team, Harris took his talents to Gonzaga, where he spent four seasons developing into an NBA-caliber talent. Bulldogs fans know him best for his tenacity, versatility and hard work, all things the Lakers saw plenty of during his five-game audition.
Now locked down with the Lakers, Harris will provide head coach Mike D’Antoni with a big 3 or stretch 4 who can use his versatility to create mismatches. Some have even called him a poor man’s version of Clark, using his relentless motor and work ethic to make things happen on both sides of the court.
Especially with the departure of Dwight Howard, the Lakers are going to need help both on the boards and on defense. Harris pulled down the second-most rebounds for the Lakers during Summer League and made his biggest mark at Gonzaga as a defensive presence. Throughout his college career, Harris bullied opponents on the glass and could use his length and frame to do more of the same in the NBA.
It’s going to take some time and experience before Harris becomes a household name in Los Angeles. He’s not going to be fazed by the spotlight of playing for the Lakers, but is still developing and would benefit from flying under the radar for a year or two.
The Lakers found a hidden gem in Harris, who should mature into a quality role player in the not-so-distant future.