However, once the postseason arrives, the volume of such looks will inevitably lessen. To the point where they’re barely existent. Harris’ newfound affinity in hoisting shots that he’s showed glaring reticence to in prior seasons is a welcoming sight.
To survive in the NBA, especially as a lesser-touted prospect entering the Draft, who subsequently struggled to find his footing in the big leagues, malleability is the name of the game. There’s a reason why we incessantly refer to Harris as being “more than a shooter.” His dynamism is what turned him from the kind of player a contender releases to avoid tax penalties to the kind of player a contender goes over the tax threshold to retain.
Joe Harris’ Ever-Evolving Game
Last year it was acting as a makeshift second option for several weeks when Caris LeVert and Kyrie Irving went down. Then it was returning to form as an elite complementary talent once the team got healthy again. Then, once more, returning to a more prominent role in the “bubble” where he averaged 20 points-per-game in the five seeding games leading up to the playoffs on a team ransacked by injuries/dropouts due to COVID-19.
Now, it’s pulling from 25-feet out in transition when Jaylen Brown doesn’t commit to Harris’ three-ball. If he’s applying pressure to opposing defenses by aggressively pursuing looks — this offense takes another devastating leap forward.
Speaking of Jaylen Brown, a season ago, he explained — in his own words — what it’s like to chase Harris around for 48 minutes:
Jaylen Brown on chasing around Joe Harris: "Joe be running like he running from the police. Jesus Christ. As soon as you turn your head, he gone. It was a good challenge and it was a good way to get going." Harris had five 3s, 21 points tonight.
Harris running around like Dash from The Incredibles is not Brown’s only problem now. After fighting through a barrage of screens, he also has to worry about Joe relocating and taking side-step contested threes. KD, himself, has stated that the Nets need Harris to make such looks. And he’s more than capable as one of the deadliest marksmen in NBA history to oblige him.
The Nets are Playing With Pace — Harris Is Too.
Brooklyn Nets head coach Steve Nash has been on record, multiple times now, stating how he wants the team to play fast and with pace. He did play an integral role in revolutionizing modern offenses in Phoenix as part of the “seven seconds or less” Suns alongside Mike D’Antoni, who now works as his assistant — as well as Amar’e Stoudemire — so this isn’t a surprising revelation.
Harris is abiding by his coach’s wants. Be it jab-stepping over Kelly Oubre‘s outstretched arms with 20 seconds still left on the shot clock, or launching threes sans the ball in his shooter’s pocket. Which was all but a must for him to shoot from distance in the past.
Following a below-par playoff series against the Sixers in 2018-19, there were some concerns about whether he could “survive” in that setting. Forget that that was his first taste of postseason action as a starter. There were some ready to write him off — then and there.
However, playing for the Brooklyn Nets’ playoff hopes in the “bubble,” he showed that he clearly belonged and could flourish. That also includes two postseason games against the Raptors. Where opposing head coach Nick Nurse provided insight on how difficult Harris can be to corral.
“You’ve gotta hug him, you’ve gotta chase him, you’ve gotta really work and it frees up a lot of driving and rolling and all that kind of stuff when you’ve got a guy like that out there … ” Nurse told the Chronicle Herald.
Now it’s about maximizing the team’s overall efficacy with their two high-usage stars. Harris refusing to be complacent and actively looking for his shots is the next step in his evolution. Be it clean looks or not. And thus far, something tells me he is more than ready for the challenge.