|NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Michigan State G Gary Harris||06.18.14 at 9:00 am ET|
As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2014 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be available to the Celtics when they make their two selections in the first round.
Position: Combo guard
School: Michigan State
Weight: 205 pounds
Key 2013-14 stats: 16.7 points, 5.0 rebounds, 3.3 assists
Scouting report: Harris is one of the best defenders in the draft and can easily defend multiple positions despite being undersized. He’s a lockdown defender in man-to-man situations, but also is excellent off-ball, constantly displaying top-notch awareness by hitting his rotations and by sticking to players running through screens.
The 19-year-old also has complementary scoring skills on the offensive end, as he is an improving 3-point shooter and ball-handler. Some teams even project him as a “modern point guard” because he is a solid passer and tends to make the right play in pick-and-roll situations.
Harris does have his problems as a scorer, though, as he was extremely inefficient in the half-court, with only a 49.5 effective field goal percentage and a 43.1 at-rim field goal percentage, according to Hoop-Math.com. Part of the reason for those struggles is his lack of a floater or mid-range game to compensate for his finishing ability at the rim.
Overall, Harris has a lot of skill at his age and should continue to improve on the offensive end. Even if he doesn’t, his defense is still good enough for him to carve out a role as a defensive specialist.
How he fits: Harris could work as a contingency plan in case Avery Bradley can’t be re-signed or is used in a sign-and-trade deal. Harris brings a similar skill set and could potentially have even higher upside than Bradley.
ESPN Insider: Why Harris is a lottery pick
SB Nation: The big Gary Harris scouting report: The 3-and-D prototype
Video: Gary Harris pre-draft workout and interview
|Weekly NBA Draft Watch: Takeaways from combine||05.20.14 at 4:50 pm ET|
The NFL draft combine represents some of the biggest days in a college football star’s life. Prospects are held under a microscope and are heavily graded on their performance. The findings have the ability to swing a player’s draft stock significantly one direction or the other. The NBA draft combine, which was held in Chicago last Wednesday through Sunday, holds a very different kind of meaning.
Much less stock is invested in the drills at the NBA combine, but they still have it, so I’m going to write about it. For starters, the three big names who make winning a top-three pick in Tuesday’s draft lottery so crucial were no-shows. Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid felt they had nothing to gain by showing up, which probably was the right call. The last thing any of them need is a fluke injury while showing scouts they can dribble around cones. Their absence made it much less entertaining for those of us who watched all 15 hours of coverage (which might be just me).
As ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla kept repeating, the whole process is really just a job interview. This is spot on. There’s not that much you can learn by watching basketball players run and jump that you haven’t already seen in game action. Scouts are always enamored with a prospect’s measurements, though. If you’re an NBA general manager who doesn’t know that Aaron Gordon is going to test well on the vertical jump, or that Dante Exum is going to test well in the agility drills, then you haven’t been doing your job.
This is why the personal interview process is so important at the combine. But we don’t have access to that (the in-depth interviews behind closed doors, at least), so here are some takeaways worth noting.
– The highest max vertical leaps belonged to Jahii Carson and Markel Brown at 43 1/2 inches. No one cared, however, as Wiggins’ agent conveniently released an image of his client displaying his 44-inch vertical in his own training session. Looks like it was the right call to not show up, seeing that everyone was talking about Wiggins anyway.
– Everyone, literally everyone, wanted to see Exum. This was the first chance many GMs got to watch Exum in person. Of course, they didn’t even get to see him play, just participate in athletic testing. Exum is a high-character kid, as expected he did a fantastic job in his interviews. I would be very nervous using a top-five pick on him hardly seeing him actually play basketball, though. During the draft process he will only be working out alone. Most of the top prospects operate this way, but we have seen all of them compete on the floor in college. People who have seen Exum play the most — Chad Ford and Franschilla — believe he will develop into a star. But have they even seen enough of him?
– Marcus Smart is a guy considered a lesser talent than Exum, but I’m not convinced that’s true. Not to say Exum won’t be better, my eyes just haven’t seen anything to convince me of that yet. By many accounts, Exum has a similar body at 18 years old to Michael Jordan. So did Lenny Cook — how’d that work out? Smart is a passionate player. Danny Ainge says he loves Smart’s ‘fire,’ which some look at as an attitude problem. I tend to agree with Ainge here. Smart is a big, physical guard who always plays aggressive. He needs to improve his jump shot, but so does Exum. Let’s just say Smart has more of a chance to be Russell Westbrook than Exum has to be Jordan. Exum vs. Smart is almost turning into a Wiggins vs. Parker argument in my mind. Do you want the elite prospect with the athletic gifts? Or do you want the better player right now? Who says Smart and Parker won’t still grow in the NBA?