Denver Nuggets Season Review: Gary Harris

by Alex Labidou
Nuggets.com Staff Writer
@LabidouA

THE NUMBERS:

Games: 57, PPG: 12.9, RPG: 2.8, FG: .424

THE SEASON:

As the longest-tenured Denver Nugget, Gary Harris has seen it all during his time with the franchise.

The guard was drafted in 2015 and remembers when Pepsi Center was half-full due to the team’s on-the-court struggles. It is that reason Harris put aside an injury-hampered regular season to play some of the best basketball of his five-year career in the postseason.

“It’s been amazing, it’s been surreal. It’s something cool to see – just reflecting and looking back on how it used to be and how it is now. We’ve come a long way,” Harris told Nuggets.com in May.

Harris averaged 14.2 points and 4.1 rebounds while shooting 46.2 percent from the field during the playoffs. His-behind-the back, no-look layup in Game 1 vs. Portland was one of the highlights of the entire NBA postseason and he became the top trending topic on Twitter that night.

READ MORE: Harris’ layup stuns social media

As solid as he was on offense, Harris’s biggest impact was on the other side of the floor. The 24-year-old was often tasked with taking on the opposition’s top player. Whether it was DeMar DeRozan or Damian Lillard, Harris’ physical brand of defense proved effective throughout the Nuggets’ postseason run. His head coach Michael Malone said it best, “I think Gary Harris is one of the more underrated defenders in the NBA.”

Harris’ best defensive performance was against Derrick White in the first round matchup against San Antonio. The Spurs guard was dominant in the first three games of the series as he averaged 23.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting 69 percent from the field. After Game 3, Malone switched Harris on the second-year guard and White went cold for the rest of the series, averaging 9.3 points on 36.4 percent shooting. In Game 7, where White shot 0-for-7, Harris guarded him for 13 possessions and White went 0-for-4.

After a postseason run where he received praise from both his teammates and opposing players, Harris admits he’s thankful of the recognition of his work on that side of the court.

“I appreciate my teammates showing love,” Harris said. “I just try to go out there and be the best I can be.”

He added, “[Defense] has always been an area of pride for me. Ever since I’ve started playing basketball. If there’s one thing that you can always control, it’s the effort on the defensive side.”

UNDERAPPRECIATED FACT:

Harris is a man of many interests and talents. He’s a former high school football wide receiver, which explains his all-in style of play. He’s worldly as seen with his international trips on his social media profile.

Interestingly enough, he’s planning a potential second trip to workout with Nikola Jokić in Sombor, Serbia.

“I’m definitely going to make a trip out to Serbia [again],” Harris said at his end of the season availability.

If Jokić lets him of course.

“It’s my place,” the center said jokingly. “The people love me there so I don’t want them [Harris and Juancho Hernangómez] to come and take my crown.

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