Going back home after years away is always a unique, surreal situation. For Dallas Mavericks point guard Devin Harris though, the situation is extra unique and surreal.
If you’re not too familiar with Harris, one look at the back of his basketball card will make you think he’s simply a point guard who was once a pretty good starter, but is currently at the end of what has been a continual decline. Upon further examination, however, it is apparent that Harris’ situation is far more complex than a mere decline that happens to most point guards his age.
What in heaven’s name did happen to Harris after he got traded to the Brooklyn Nets for Jason Kidd back in 2008? Well, it’s somewhat like what happened to Tevin Campbell, but not quite the same. Go back to Harris’ first full season with the Nets. Well, he actually never had a ‘full’ season with the Nets. He did, however, play in 69 games during the 2008-09 NBA season, averaging more than 21 points per game. At that point, Harris seemed to have established himself as one of the premiere offensive point guards in the game.
Everything about his offensive game said ‘superstar’ at that point. Harris was in a golden situation, as the whole team was being built around him. He seemed to be an untouchable commodity, but then he got hurt, and then got hurt again. Missing a good amount of games in back-to-back years resulted in the Nets trading him for the established, durable, superstar point guard Deron Williams.
The situations Harris was placed in the years following that second trade, and then third trade, were situations where he was the older point guard all of a sudden, relegated to getting reduced minutes as a sixth man, while the younger guy — the guy Harris used to be — got the lion’s share of the minutes.
In a reduced role, Harris continued to put up respectable numbers, but make no mistake. The skills are still there. Harris is still excellent at driving to the basket and hitting big shots. Opposing defenses still have to respect his jump shot. He’s still got it.
It’s easy to say though, that Harris’ situation is pretty similar now to what it was when he played for the Utah Jazz two seasons ago and the Atlanta Hawks last season. There’s the veteran point guard starting ahead of him (Jose Calderon), and the first round draft pick (Shane Larkin) still ahead of him on the depth chart. On the flip side, there is a more realistic opportunity for Harris to re-establish himself as a starting point guard in the NBA than there has been for him in recent years. Head coach Rick Carlisle prefers to go with the veterans over the younger guys, and he also isn’t one of those coaches who plays favorites, so to speak. So, if Harris shows that he is the best man for the job of starting point guard, there’s a good chance he’ll soon hear his name on the opening pregame intros.
Of course, at this point, Harris is just happy to be back on the court where his NBA career began, especially after just getting past his latest injury. He just got back, so it’s tough to fathom him becoming a starting point guard anytime soon, but remember that he did kind of shock the world when he averaged more than 21 points per game for the Nets that one season. Maybe coming back home, so to speak, to Dallas will help Harris rediscover some of that magic he had in New Jersey.