Virginia Basketball alum Joe Harris had a breakout season last year in the NBA, and he’s about to get paid big money as a result. With free agency opening at midnight on July 1, Harris agreed to sign a two-year, $16 million deal with his current squad — the Brooklyn Nets.
While the money is exciting, it’s almost more exciting that Harris was mentioned in a “Woj Bomb”, a coveted tweet from ESPN’s NBA guru Adrian Wojnarowski.
Joe Harris has agreed to a two-year, $16M deal with Nets, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) July 1, 2018
Harris had a banner season with the Nets last year, setting career highs in all of the major categories. Our friends from our Brooklyn sister site — Nets Daily — sum it up perfectly:
In his fourth season in the NBA, he averaged personal bests in points (10.8), rebounds (3.3), field goal percentage (49.1), three-point percentage (41.9) and free throw percentage (82.7). More impressively, he was the best player in the NBA in scoring on drives to the rim (62.7 percent), topping second-placed LeBron James.
In his final seven games of the season, Joey Buckets shot a blazing 56.8% from three, 62.7% from the field, and averaged just shy of 17 points per game. Since the calendar turned to 2018, Harris had an NBA-best 46.7% three point percentage of any player with at least 100 attempts, per an early April story from the New York Post. By the end of the season, that mark was the second-best in the league.
Before the season, Harris set a personal goal of shooting 40% from three for the season. He went above and beyond that mark, finishing the season on fire until an injury sidelined him for the last two games. Harris excelled taking the ball to the hoop, finishing through contact, converting threes on the move, and as a spot-up shooter.
Several teams, including the Indiana Pacers and the back-to-back NBA champion Golden State Warriors, were rumored to have been interested in Harris. As the free agency signing period was ramping up, Harris was a name to watch according to The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor. Said O’Connor:
Watching losing teams is usually painful, but the Nets were surprisingly enjoyable this past season. One of the reasons? Joe Harris, who was one of the NBA’s most efficient players. Seriously! Harris scored 1.12 points per possession, per Synergy Sports. He flourished by running through screens and handoffs in head coach Kenny Atkinson’s offense like he was Kyle Korver. The 26-year-old wing shot 41.9 percent from 3 despite taking a ton of looks on the move.
The Nets sticking with Joe and paying the man his money is good for Brooklyn in a couple ways. First and foremost, they keep an outstanding young player with tremendous upside. Harris battled playing time issues and some injuries his first couple seasons in the league with the Cleveland Cavaliers, but flourished under Kenny Atkinson’s system in Brooklyn.
Secondly, the Nets showed their commitment to consistency by keeping Harris. This is good for the team and the Brooklyn fans, but also good for Harris himself. “Yeah, I think any time you’re comfortable playing within a system you’re going to play more aggressive,” Harris commented during the end of the year media availability. “You’re going to play with more confidence.”
He’s not the most athletically gifted player on the court, but he’s an outstanding team defensive player, and his one-on-one defense is nothing to shake a stick at. His 118 three-pointers is the most by a Nets bench player in franchise history. Throughout the season, Harris showed he’s a versatile player on both sides of the ball, adding dimension to his offense and grittiness to his defense.
The Athletic’s Same Vecenie was pleased with the deal:
Joe Harris at two years, $16 mill is probably my favorite deal so far.— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) July 1, 2018
Congrats to Joey Buckets on securing a big deal. We’re sure he’s going to continue excelling on the big stage. Swoon.