Moore: Why Joe Harris Absolutely, Positively Must Be Considered One of the NBA’s Best Shooters

Moore: Why Joe Harris Absolutely, Positively Must Be Considered One of the NBA’s Best Shooters article feature image
Credit:

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Joe Harris

  • The NBA universe has been sleeping on Joe Harris.
  • Matt Moore argues why the Brooklyn Nets guard should be considered one the league's best shooters.
  • Among the most compelling reasons? He's the most efficient jumpshooter this season. (And yes, that includes Stephen Curry.)

Do not leave Joe Harris open. Under any circumstances. You can make a lot of choices, do a lot of things. But understand this: Do not leave Joe Harris open.

When the Brooklyn Nets re-signed Harris to a two-year, $16 million deal last summer, it didn’t make a splash. It barely registered on the chyron. However, it was one of the best deals of the offseason for value. Not only for the quality of player relative to price, but for the specific value of Harris to what the Nets do.

Under Kenny Atkinson,  the Nets have a pretty simple formula: They’re going to out-math you. The Nets take the sixth-most 3-pointers per 100 possessions in the league and allow the second-fewest.

Here’s what Harris said in an expansive interview with our Rob Perez (which you should go watch RIGHT NOW): “Obviously I’m fortunate to be in a situation here in Brooklyn where a lot of our offense is predicated around getting shooters shots.

“Kenny, our coaching staff, front office — [they’re] really big on guys taking 3s. They don’t shy away from it at all. They’re very big in analytics. They want guys taking a lot of 3s, so for me, I come into the situation, that’s my game.

The Nets do a lot of interesting things to get Harris into his spots.

Here Harris sets a transition or mid-transition slip screen, then immediately runs off a big, burly screen from Jarrett Allen:

(Allen, by the way, is sixth in the league in screen assists.)

How good has Harris been this season? By Synergy Sports he ranks:

  • No. 1 in jump shot effective field goal percentage in the league among those with at least 100 possessions. He has an eFG of 70.4%.
  • No, no, let me say that again: Joe Harris is literally the most efficient jumpshooter in the NBA this season. Yes, even more efficient than Curry (who is fourth).
  • In the 99th-percentile in catch-and-shoot points per possession.
  • In the 98th-percentile in shooting off screens.
  • In the 75th-percentile in shots off DHO (dribble hand-offs, often behind a screener).
  • No. 1 in 3-point percentage minimum five attempts per game.

The only shooter you can really compare Harris to this season is Curry.

(Curry, of course, is dwarfing Harris. Curry is making twice as many 3-pointers and is on pace for a second season averaging five made 3-pointers per game with the only other such season in league history being Curry’s 2016 unanimous MVP season. Have I mentioned Steph Curry is the greatest shooter of all time? Because Steph Curry is the greatest shooter of all time.)

Look at this friggin’ Joe Harris shot chart:

That’s 49% from the top of the key, 53% from the right wing and 55% from the right corner.

One of the more impressive signs of just how much of an intuitive, natural shooter Harris is comes from his ability to square up coming off awkward positioning on catches.

Look at where his body is turned when he catches the ball here vs. when he releases:

That’s catch, turn, land fire. One motion.

And we can talk impact, too. It’s not empty calories Harris brings to the table. Harris leads the Nets in on-court vs. off-court offensive rating differential. In layman’s terms? No player makes the Nets’ offense better than Harris.

Harris needs to be in the 3-point contest this season, but we’ve been sleeping on him the past few years. He was 97th-percentile on jumpshots last season, and 92nd-percentile the season before that.

Harris is 27 years old, just entering his prime. As the Nets get better, he figures to either be a big part of their success or provide them with the kind of trade chip they can really benefit from. Can you imagine Harris on Utah or OKC? How big a difference he would make?

(Side note: Harris was with the Cavs before the Nets acquired him and gave him a chance. You know who could have used a shooter under 30 who wasn’t a complete and total defensive liability? LeBron James. You know who could still use a shooter under 30 who wasn’t a complete and total defensive liability? LeBron James.)

For now, Harris is the very model of what NBA teams need to keep pace in the Math Race that the Warriors and Moreyball have turned the league into. He’s efficient, he’s spry, he’s smart and he makes the most out of every opportunity.

Let’s give him the opportunity to win the 3-point contest.