Gary Harris is coming off his best season yet in year three. He put up a very efficient 14.9 points per game shooting 50.2% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc. There’s no doubt his production will be a crucial piece in the Denver Nuggets success.
Why he can improve statistically
When a new player, especially a scorer, is added to a team such as Kevin Durant joining the Warriors last year, it’s hard to tell who will have to sacrifice shots as a result.
The word around the league on the Warriors last offseason was that Klay Thompson would lose a lot of shots with the addition of Durant. This hypothesis was proved wrong throughout the season though. Thompson put up almost identical numbers to the previous year but actually increased his scoring average and three point attempts by 0.2 per game, as well as increasing his total shots by 0.3 attempts per game.
What this has to do with Gary Harris
Replacing Danilo Gallinari with Paul Millsap means about two more shots per game from the power forward position. Starting the season with defined stardom instead of fighting for minutes means more minutes and shots for Nikola Jokic. Replacing Jameer Nelson with sharpshooter Jamal Murray means more shots taken by the point guard. Yet, despite all of this, Gary Harris has a great chance to take his next step in growth this year.
While it might seem like there won’t be enough shots to go around, it’s not like teams actually have a maximum number of shots their starters can shoot. If Harris takes more shots per game it won’t push the team over their ceiling of shots that can be taken.
How his improvement will happen
The reason Gary Harris will have a legitimate chance to up last season’s scoring output is because of how much easier his shots should come this year.
It’s not uncommon for Nikola Jokic to put on a passing clinic during games. Harris benefited a lot from Jokic off cuts and handoffs last year which will surely continue this year. Also, while the one more assist per game that Millsap usually averages over Gallinari won’t be a very noticeable help to Harris when watching games, the attention Millsap will draw as a playmaker in general will.
Here at Armchair, as smart as we might think we are, we aren’t the only people who know about the added offensive firepower to this Nuggets team. Opposing NBA teams will be well aware of it and game plan for it accordingly, hopefully shifting a considerable amount of attention away from Harris.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to expect Harris to increase his scoring to around 17-18 points per game without sacrificing his efficiency. Only time will tell if this will become a reality, but hopes for Gary Harris and the rest of the Nuggets team remain Mile High!