After his 5-for-6 shooting performance from 3-point range in Monday night's win against San Antonio, Joe Harris is officially the NBA's No. 1 3-point shooter. Harris (47.8) is a shade ahead of Portland's Seth Curry (47.4) on nearly twice as many attempts.
He moved into the top spot just a week after winning the 3-Point Contest at NBA All-Star Weekend in Charlotte.
"I know one thing, his coach has got to get him more than seven shots," said Nets coach Kenny Atkinson after the 101-85 win against the Spurs. "Here's the best 3-point shooter, wins the 3-point shooting contest and gets seven shots I think against Charlotte (on Saturday), so we've got to find him more. That being said, he's super-efficient with the shots he takes. Joe's such an unselfish player he doesn't want to take contested shots. But I keep encouraging him, he needs to take contested shots, that's how good a shooter he is. And he's got the size to shoot with a hand in his face. "
"He wants you to be extremely aggressive," said Harris. "It's just not really I guess in my nature to force shots, I just take it as it flows and I got a lot of good looks tonight. Some games you're gonna have seven shots, some games you're gonna have 15, it just ebbs and flows with the game."
Going back to his 7-for-8 night in Toronto before the All-Star break, Harris is 19-for-26 from deep over Brooklyn's last five games. With one game remaining in February against the Wizards on February, Harris is shooting 56.8 percent from 3-point range in the month, making it the third of five months in this season in which he shoots at least 50 percent from 3-point range.
As he has on several occasions this season, Atkinson also made a point to cite Harris' improvement on the defensive end. At 6-foot-6 and 218 pounds, Harris brings some physicality to the defensive role and has gotten better in keeping up on the perimeter as well.
"I think in the past, a lot of times I was really reactive instead of anticipating where people were going to be and beating them to the spot," said Harris. "I think I've gotten more comfortable and more confident on the defensive end. I've just been able to anticipate things a little bit better instead of reacting to how guys play offensively."
“I think his, first of all, better individual defense, just guarding guys one-on-one," said Atkinson. "I think he’s done a real good job there. I’m not sure where his rebounding numbers are, but he’s one of our best hit-first guys, boxing out. He just doesn’t get lost on screening situations. Fouling guys and chasing guys at his position, he’s gotta do a lot of that. And then his pick and roll defense has gotten better. I thought last year or two years ago he was running into screens all the time. He’s doing a much better job of navigating screens.”
Back on the offensive end, Harris has continued to excel in finishing at the rim, an area in which he took a big leap last season. It's natural for teams to attempt to run Harris off the 3-point line, but he's making them pay with a 59.3 field goal percentage on drives.
"His overall game, we're just thrilled with it," said Atkinson. "It's not just the shooting, it's the driving, the defense has improved tremendously, he's really taken huge steps in terms of becoming a complete basketball player."