Athletically, Harris is above average for a shooting guard. While he doesn't have elite vertical, he has tremendous lateral quickness and front-line speed. He also has great anticipation which allows him to play even quicker.
One concern about Harris coming into the combine was lack of height. He's only 6’4 with a shorter wingspan of only 6’7. While he is on the shorter side and has t-rex arms, Harris has a nice wiry-build and good strength.
The thing that impresses me the most about Harris’ basketball game outside of his 3 point shooting, is his basketball IQ. You don’t average nearly 2 steals a game in the rugged Big 10 with t-rex arms unless you know how to play the game.
He has some of the best defensive awareness I have seen in a two-guard prospect in awhile. In fact, I feel he has a great defensive game, like Butler, when it comes to instincts and anticipation. Offensively, he almost averaged 17 points a game in the Big 10.
Skill-wise, Harris is elite offensively in terms of coming off picks and shooting from mid-range or 3 point range. Despite only shooting 36 from three this year, it was the kind of shots his team would have him take that I feel would lead to a lower 3 point percentage.
He would usually be the guy at the end asked to hit shots from harder angles as while Michigan State is well coached, they also play a grind it out style if not out on the break.
While Harris is an elite shooter, at times he was the only scorer on his team as his teammate and fellow prospect, Adreian Payne was injured for a few games and Keith Appling was playing on a bummed shoulder.
If he is not shooting a three, he has the ability to create off a one or two dribble pull-up. While he is not an elite creator and does struggle finishing at times, he did show the ability at the end of the year to create a little more, however he is very right-hand dominant.
Defensively is what excites me about Gary Harris. While it is true that he is an inch shorter than most shooting guards and has a below average wing-span, he has elite lateral quickness, elite speed, the ability to battle through screens, the bulk to not let many shooting guards post him up easily, elite anticipation, and fast-twitch hands.
His defensive ability and the versatility to be able to guard either guard position reminds me of a Jimmy Butler version of combo guards. Both have good athletic ability, anticipation, tough-minded, and shorter wing-spans.
While Harris is a good prospect to me, he also has concerns. Harris can glide off picks to shoot a three or mid-range, but can he be more than a 3-and-D guy? While he shows great shooting, he only shot around 36% from three this year.
While I think some of it was due to circumstances and not really being a go-to-scorer, I also feel he will be great in a high-IQ system with a ball creator or two and allowing him to score off the picks and create off secondary movement.
Also, while Harris probably has more potential to create, he did not show much until the end of this year. Some of this could be due to the fact that he has been injured off-and-on with different and unrelated injuries in his two years. Will he stay healthy?
Overall, Harris is exciting to me as a prospect despite his flaws. While he may not have as much upside as many players in this draft, I feel he is going to be one of the better players in the draft and at the minimum a 3-and-D guy.
I can see Harris going anywhere from pick six to 16 due to concerns about size. I do think he will make up for lack of size with his shooting prowess, his great basketball IQ, quick reflexes, ability to work hard, being a good teammate, and ability to know his role.
I feel like Harris possesses a game similar to Brad Beal without quite as much slashing, but more defense. I don’t think Harris will be quite as good as Beal in terms of scoring, but should be a 17ppg type scorer in his prime.
How does he fit with the Bulls?
Outside of more playmaking ability, Harris is everything we need in a shooting guard. Offensively, Harris is a tremendous shooter from three, mid-range, and can slash on occasion. He is one of those players that will make big-time plays to help win playoff games.
Also, Coach Thibs loves to run a motion style of offense and Harris would come in right away and play many minutes due to his understanding of the game and the ability to defend right away.
Playing for Coach Izzo is almost like playing for a college version of Coach Thibs. While I love Jimmy Butler, I would be intrigued to trade his rights and the 19th to move up or both our picks to get Gary Harris as I feel he is a better fit on this team if we land a superstar; especially if we don’t want pay Butler six or seven million next season.
Overall, Harris reminds me of a cross between Brad Beal and Aaron Afflalo. What I mean is that he shows flashes of slashing more like a Brad Beal and is more of a natural athlete/shooter of a Brad Beal while being a tenacious defender and slightly taller than Aaron Afflalo.
I have no qualms stating that as long as he can stay healthy, that he will be a borderline all-star type player in the sense of the ultimate glue guy. I would say he ranks in my top 7 players in this draft and will do better than some of the top 10 prospects ranked in this draft in terms of production; especially a couple of the power forwards.
I doubt the Bulls move up to get him, but he is the type of player we can get without giving up way too much!