When the Detroit Pistons go on the clock in the 2014 NBA Draft the right prospect may be closer than they think. Michigan State’s Gary Harris would obviously be a hit with fans, and fill a hole on the roster at shooting guard. Keeping Harris in state would just be an added bonus to go along with his advanced skill-set.
The Pistons do have Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Rodney Stuckey at the shooting guard spot, but are those guys really the answer? Stuckey has shown he is a capable scorer, but it is much better coming off the bench with the second unit, and he also prefers not to play defense. Outside of one great game at the end of this past season Caldwell-Pope has shown very little. He’s still only 21 years old, so he definitely still has time to grow into his game, it just doesn’t seem like he is the long term answer at starter for the Pistons. Caldwell-Pope was also a draft pick of the former Pistons front office, which doesn’t bode well for him. When new regimes come in they have no loyalty to past draft picks, so Caldwell-Pope will certainly need to impress the new coaching staff and front office early on to earn playing time.
Gary Harris may just be the answer the Pistons are looking for at shooting guard. Harris had good size for a shooting guard at 6 foot 5 inches. He really shines on the offensive end of the court, and is extremely polished for his young age. Harris can stroke it from anywhere on the court, but can also come off screens, and create his own shot.
If the Pistons did pick Harris it would open some interesting options. A Josh Smith-Rodney Stuckey tandem may not net the Pistons a ton on the trade market, but if they could get an asset in return and clear those contracts? That would be huge. Shooting guard would still be set with Harris and Caldwell-Pope holding it down, and the Pistons would have essentially hit the reset button flipping two guys who don’t play defense for younger guys, and plenty of cap space. Space that could be used to lock up Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond long term.
The NBA comparison that comes to mind for Harris would be Bradley Beal. Beal, like Harris, is 6 foot 5 inches, and has shown that he can get his shot in the NBA. Both players are skilled shooters that have very smooth games. Beal is currently running through the NBA playoffs with the Washington Wizards, and could be on his way to making an Eastern Conference Finals in just his second year. Harris is 19 years old, while Beal is just 20. Both were college sharpshooters that will benefit from the way the floor is spaced in the NBA. When you can shoot it from anywhere in the gym, the 3 point line being farther back and spacing the floor can only help you. The reason Beal went 3rd overall in his draft was his elite athleticism. Beal can get to hoop in a flash, and that is something Harris will have to be craftier at because he doesn’t have the lightning first step.
What Harris lacks in explosiveness he makes up for in basketball IQ, intangibles, and position defense. You know you are getting a well-taught prospect when you draft a Michigan State player. Tom Izzo is a great teacher of the game, and produces team guys that care about winning. Harris has learned to play the game the right way, and that includes defense. Harris can guard both backcourt positions effectively and has the length needed to disrupt the offense.
Harris is a well-rounded prospect that would fit in nicely with the Pistons. He would also open a ton of options for the team’s roster. Now it’s time to see if the Pistons get lucky, and win the lottery, or pick at their projected spot of eight where Harris may just fit perfectly.
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