When you think of the great shooters in basketball history, many of them have a distinctive shot: the elbow-out jerky style of Reggie Miller, Ray Allen’s perfect up-and-down single motion, the two-handed push and hop of Allie Quigley, or the flick of the wrist from the hip that Shawn Marion perfected.
Joe Harris of the Brooklyn Nets is no different.
He might not be the sexiest long-distance shooter in the NBA to watch this season, but his unkempt, non-hipster beard and Dad-bod catching and shooting is still a beautiful thing to watch. He’s not dribbling in and out of defenses like James Harden, and he isn’t relied upon to fill up the scoring column in the same way that Klay Thompson does, but what Harris does has turned the Nets into a playoff contender. And whatever happens in the late stages of the regular season, he has done enough to secure himself a solid NBA future beyond the end of his contract next year.
The three-point specialist loves to run off a screen. His preference is to catch and shoot, but from beyond the arc he is most effective when he curls off a pick above the break, takes one dribble and fires. A single-dribble shot from three ends up going in 49% of the time, and 98.9% of them are assisted.
But it’s not just this particular shot that’s effective. His long-distance percentage leads the league at 47.2, and this earned him an invite to the All-Star Weekend’s best competition, the 3-Point Contest. In Charlotte, Harris wiped the floor with a field that included two hometown Curry brothers, the Hornets favourite Kemba Walker as well as former winners Devin Booker and Dirk Nowitzki.
The form of his upper body is a thing of consistent beauty that Chip Engelland would appreciate: square shoulders, good arm extension and a flick of the wrist at the peak. His lower body, however, is where things get quirky. The amazing thing about Harris during the 3-Point Contest is that he jumps much higher compared to the other participants on a standard shot, except for perhaps Danny Green. So it’s a wonder he kept up the energy and had the speed to finish each round with such precision.
His jump is high. And when he raises up he travels forward in the air. In a delightful moment of body control mid-hop, Harris lifts his knees slightly – he looks like a moderately talented skier that is learning how to land little jumps on a blue route. He then lands with softer knees than you’d find on the professional slopes of Whistler.
Harris is the third scoring option of the team, and plays the second highest minutes. And for someone who bounced around G-League teams and the bottom of benches for his first three NBA seasons, this is quite the turnaround.
His game is more well rounded than just being a three-point specialist. He also averages nearly 4 rebounds and 2.4 assists.
While he isn’t the most defensively capable player, he has certainly developed into someone that doesn’t make many mistakes, and should the Nets make the playoffs this year or in the future, he could remain a key asset to a championship-level team. And it all starts with one thing.
Feature photo – Abbie Parr / Getty Images / NBAE / Double Clutch illustration