Gary Harris | 2014 NBA Draft Profile

Michigan State's Gary Harris is projected to be one of the most well-rounded wings in this year's Draft. He's hoping that his all-around play and competitiveness shine through to NBA executives.
Andy Lyons/Getty Images
by Mark Remme
Web Editor
@markremme

Michigan State | Sophomore | Shooting Guard | 6-foot-4 | 210 lbs

2013-14: 32.3 MPG, 16.7 PPG, .429 FG%, .352 3FG%, .810 FT%, 4.0 RPG, 2.7 APG, 1.8 SPG

2012-13: 29.7 MPG, 12.9 PPG, .45.6 FG%, .411 3FG%, .755 FT%, 2.5 RPG, 1.4 APG, 1.3 SPG

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Editor’s Note: Throughout June, Timberwolves.com will profile a series of prospects that could be available at Minnesota’s No. 13 pick, or if they choose to be mobile during the 2014 NBA Draft on June 26. Part VIII highlights Michigan State’s Gary Harris, who is projected to be one of the more well-around shooting guards in this year’s Draft.

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Michigan State guard Gary Harris knows the drill. He’s played in the physical Big Ten Conference, he’s played in big games and he’s played in hostile environments that test your nerves at every turn. So he’s been tested in that regard. Still, when you’re dealing with what amount to be job interviews at the NBA level, you feel the magnitude of the moment.

“I feel like everybody should be nervous,” Harris said at the Draft Combine in Chicago. “We’re all embarking on a new life that none of us have experienced before. It’s not college, it’s different. We’re in a grown man’s world. It’s going to be different, but I’m also excited to get on with my future.”

He’s got the right mindset for it.

Harris leaves the Spartans program as a player very well established as a two-way player who gives effort on every possession. He’s confident his effort will help his game translate to the next level, and by most accounts he’s got all the intangibles you look for in a player. He hustles, he works hard, he plays strong defense and he has a solid handle for an off-guard.

He’s never played in the NBA before, but he said he feels like his abilities mirror what the league desires. Even if he is a bit undersized by 2-guard standards.

“I’m not worried  about [being undersized],” he said. “I’m a competitor. I go out and I compete regardless of size.”

And when it comes to contribute in a pick-and-roll dominated world, he’s not worried about that either. He’s ready to just take what the defense gives you, he said.

“I think it suits me well,” Harris said. “I feel like I’m pretty good in the pick-and-roll, and I feel like I have confidence running that, and I feel like that could definitely be a good fit for me.”

STRENGTHS

Harris will be a two-way player for an NBA franchise, which makes a big difference. He’s a sound defender that plays with strong fundamentals as well as tenacious intensity. He also tends to understand the game, which factors into his success on both ends of the court. Harris is a versatile player and does have the ability to score at the rim and from outside. His numbers from 3-point range dipped last season, but inside the arc he did shoot better than 50 percent in 2013-14. He did, however, improve his free-throw shooting, and he is a player that can help create for others. Harris seems to feel comfortable coming off screens and hitting shots as well as doing so off the dribble and in step-backs. With his size, that will probably be an important part of his game at the next level—being able to finish by creating a little space. He’s also a player who is young and has a good amount of upside, so whichever team decides to take him should get a reliable player.

WEAKNESSES

The biggest area of concern with Harris is probably his size. He’s 6-foot-4, and typically you’d like to see your shooting guards in the 6-foot-6 or 6-foot-7 range if they’re logging big minutes or starting for your squad. He’s not overly athletic compared to other wings in this draft, which doesn’t help make up for his size and also raises questions about how he might be able to stack up against his counterparts in the NBA. His 3-point shooting as a sophomore was not as efficient as it was as a freshman. Part of that could be because there are questions about his shot selection, which is another area that NBA teams might look into while deciding on Harris.

THEY SAID IT

“It’s kind of crazy, you know? I’m seeing this on TV before and I’ve seen the ESPNU film and the Combine and the Drills, and you know to be here it’s kind of like, wow, it’s really happening. It just motivates you to keep striving and improving and get better.” — Michigan State’s Gary Harris on the Combine/Draft process

WHAT HE CAN BRING TO THE WOLVES

Harris has a lot of upside as an all-around player. He might not be the best at any one thing on the court, but he is pretty solid on both ends of the floor and could be a strong rotation player for a team throughout his career. He brings intensity and intangibles as a competitor, which is always the basis for success in the league. He projects to be a pretty solid shooter in the league, and he’s said he feels comfortable operating out of the pick-and-roll. His defense projects to be a major selling point for looking at Harris in this Draft class.