Joe Harris is one of the best shooters in the NBA and the Brooklyn Nets marksman will open everyone’s eyes to his efficiency this year.
One of the most overlooked shooters in the NBA is currently tucked away on an under-the-radar team in Brooklyn. Richard Jefferson has taken to calling him Beef Jerky Joe. Whatever you want to call him, Joe Harris was a diamond in the rough in 2016 free agency. He’s a perfect fit for the Brooklyn Nets and Kenny Atkinson’s fast-paced system.
Harris is a sharpshooter who should be considered among the league’s best. So why isn’t he mentioned with the top three-point shooters in the league? In short, he needs to shoot more. But he’s playing a bigger role this year, so you can expect to see his production increase. Last season, Harris played 25.3 minutes while attempting 4.6 threes per contest. He’s upped his minutes to 29.5 and three-point attempts to 5.5 per game. It’s a step in the right direction. Despite the uptick in attempts, Harris is shooting 58.3 percent from behind the arc this season.
His efficiency could take a slight hit if he’s shooting more, but it’s worth it. Last season, Harris finished in the 95th percentile among NBA players in points per shot attempt. Among wings, Harris finished in the 97th percentile in effective field goal percentage according to Cleaning the Glass. Effective field goal percentage calculates shooting percentage, but it gives added weight to three-pointers.
His success last season didn’t do enough to catapult him into the same conversation as shooters like Klay Thompson, Joe Ingles, Kyle Korver, and Otto Porter, but he will be soon. Harris could become one of the most valuable role players in basketball if he continues to play with top-notch efficiency.
One of his early matchups against the Pacers brought out the best in Harris. The Virginia Cavalier went 5-for-6 from deep and finished the night with 19 points. He was absolute money every time he touched the rock.
He followed that up with a cool 16 points, converting on four of his five attempts from distance. Harris has the goods and those around the league are taking notice. His former teammate, Kevin Love, spoke with YES before the Nets took on the Cavaliers and Love had nothing but effusive praise for Harris.
Here’s Kevin Love talking to YES about former teammate Joe Harris. #WeGoHard pic.twitter.com/quCY7CDUsq
— Danny Small (@dwsmall8) October 25, 2018
“He’s a great kid. He was really receptive to learning. As you can see, he’s found his way in the league and he just plays free. I think it’s great for him. He added some things to his game. He’s not just a three-point shooter, he moves off of screens, he gets cuts to the basket, he puts the ball on the floor so I’m really happy for Joe.”
Love hits the nail on the head. Harris does more than just catch and shoot threes. His three-point shooting is his bread and butter, of course, but he is starting to expand his game as time goes on. That being said, if he continues to knock down threes at a ridiculous percentage, he may not need to ever take twos.
We know that people are starting to take notice of Harris, but let’s explore exactly why he’s such a remarkable marksman.
One of the reasons why Harris is so valuable is because he is excellent in transition. The Nets play an up-tempo style and they shoot a lot of threes. They were second in the NBA in three-point attempts (35.7 per game) in 2017-18, only behind the Mike D’Antoni led Rockets (42.3 per game).
The league as a whole is playing faster than ever before. The Seven Seconds or Less Suns from the mid-2000s were instrumental in today’s pace and space game. The aforementioned D’Antoni played the game faster than anyone else, but in today’s game, those Suns teams played at a snail’s pace.
The NBA has yet to go all out and employ the Grinnell System, but would anyone be completely surprised by that at this point? Joe Harris is perfect for this uptempo style because he is an excellent catch and shoot player. He has no problem setting his feet and hoisting in transition.
Coming off screens
It’s hard to be a legitimate three-point assassin without being able to run off screens for catch and shoot opportunities. Sure, there are some guys who play with the ball in their hands and can create their own shot from behind the arc. There are even a few bigs that seem to have a knack for stepping out in the pick and pop and putting up five or six threes per game.
But to be the guy who keeps opposing defenders up at night, you have to be able to run off screens. This is one of Harris’ specialties. The Wahoo is adept at running from the corner up above the break (the spot on the floor where the three-point line flattens out into the corner). There was nobody better at shooting from above the break last season. Harris shot 44.7 percent on three-pointers from above the break during the 2017-18 season. Stephen Curry, Anthony Tolliver, Klay Thompson, and Kyle Korver were the four players just below Harris. Not bad at all.
Great shooters have to be great cutters. Defenders will often overplay in anticipation of the three-pointer, setting up opportunities for backdoor cuts. Klay Thompson is one of the premier shooters in the league and his ability to keep defenders honest with timely backdoor cuts is crucial to his game.
Unsurprisingly, Harris is an excellent off-ball cutter. He can cut away from screens when necessary and he has a keen instinct for the ideal moment to cut. He has a knack for catching his defender flat-footed.
Off the bounce
He’s perfect in his current role. He’s deadly from behind the arc and he’s a constant threat when he’s on the court. He knows his role offensively and he plays within himself. Rarely do you see Harris hold onto the ball for too long. If he doesn’t have a shot or a clear opening, he moves the ball and keeps the offense flowing.
Harris doesn’t need to be a shot creator. Caris LeVert, D’Angelo Russell, and Spencer Dinwiddie are all good with the ball in their hands so Harris won’t have a ton of opportunities to create. But that doesn’t mean can’t take guys off the bounce. He’s capable of putting the ball on the deck and decisively attacking the basket when defenders come at him with a wild close out. He’s so dangerous from behind the arc that it opens up opportunities for him to catch his defender napping.
It took Joe Harris a few years to get his feet underneath him in the NBA, but now he has his feet set and his shoulders square in Brooklyn. He still flies under the radar, but now that he is torching defenses on a nightly basis, that should change. Teams will make it a point to run him off the three-point line — which makes his ability to cut and penetrate with the dribble much more important.
Keep an eye on Beef Jerky Joe this year.