Could Harrison Compare to Miller?

by Conrad Brunner

Friday, July 29, 2005


If you'd like to pose a Question of the Day to Conrad Brunner, submit it along with your full name and hometown to Bruno's_mailbag@pacers.com. Brunner’s opinions are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Pacers players, coaches or management.
QUESTION OF THE DAY

Q. Pacers faithful have really missed Brad Miller's passing, shooting, and toughness. However, fans following the team closely are psyched about David Harrison. It's obvious from summer league he has lost fat and since he says he hasn't dropped weight, he must have replaced it with muscle. Harrison has already shown a nice mid-range shot and very promising post play. How do you and the coaches feel his conditioning is coming, and how soon might Harrison be ready to contribute like Brad Miller would have? Do you think Harrison will be able to become as good a shooter, passer, and compliment to J.O. as Miller? (From Jeff in Goshen, Ind.)

A. Please note: any and all comparisons hereafter made between Harrison and Miller are based on the former's potential and the role he projects to fill with the Pacers within the next few seasons, not the here and now. Miller is a two-time All-Star; Harrison is a second-year player.

That said, ultimately, Harrison will be a very, very different kind of player than Miller. He's much more of a pure power post player, a guy who has the girth and strength to be a true offensive force around the basket. Unlike Miller, he doesn't appear to be a guy who will be comfortable on the baseline or in high-post sets. He had 52 assists in 88 games in college and 13 in 43 games last season, so passing isn't one of his strengths.

One area where Harrison already is better is shot-blocking. He has surprising athleticism and excellent anticipation and should only improve with time. There are, however, three areas that will require significant improvement before it will be justifiable to draw comparisons between the two: foul trouble, rebounding and free-throw shooting.

Once Harrison learns to move his feet more than his hands, defensively, he should begin to reduce the foul problems that plagued him last season. Though an effective offensive rebounder, Harrison should be a much, much bigger force on the defensive board. Austin Croshere averaged 7.1 defensive rebounds per 48 minutes last season; Harrison averaged just 5.5 – the same as Stephen Jackson. At the line, after posting a .553 career mark in college, he shot .571 as an NBA rookie.

There's no physical or mechanical reason Harrison can't show substantial improvement in each of those areas. If he does, then there's every chance that, in a few years, he will become a standard for comparison.