At a rangy 6-foot-9 with a blossoming physique, Harkless’ body and skill set compare favorably to George in his younger years. As a 19-year-old rookie last season for the Magic, Harkless – the 15th overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft – averaged 8.2 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.16 steals. Comparatively, George, the 10th pick of the 2010 NBA Draft, averaged 7.8 points, 3.7 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 2010-11 as a 20-year-old rookie.
George, of course, boosted his scoring to 12.1 points in his second NBA season and won the NBA’s Most Improved Player award last spring after averaging 17.4 points and 7.6 rebounds a game. Even Harkless himself sees the similarities in their games, and he is hoping now that he can follow the growth pattern of George and similarly become an elite player.
``He’s a guy who came into this league – I wouldn’t say slow – but he’s done a great job the last couple of years of elevating his game,’’ Harkless said of George. ``He’s become a player who can pretty much do it all after starting out as a defensive player.’’
Harkless showed off some of his summer growth in the preseason when he averaged 10.8 points in limited minutes. The tireless work he put in on his shot helped him shoot a solid 48.4 percent from the floor and 76.9 percent from the free throw line.
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