It's tough for a second round draft pick to crack an NBA rotation during his rookie season, and even tougher when their team has title aspirations. Joe Harris, selected 33rd overall in the 2014 Draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, was no exception. He logged fewer than 500 NBA minutes and was a DNP in 24 of the Cavs' final 34 games (including the playoffs). Despite being one of the oldest players in his draft class, and despite his rather pedestrian combine measurables (6'6 with a 6'6 wingspan, among the shortest vertical leaps registered by wing players), Harris showed a little bit of promise during the 2014-15 season.
Due to injuries to Kyrie Irving and particularly Iman Shumpert, the 24-year-old Washington native will have a chance to prove himself early in the upcoming campaign. While it's highly unlikely Harris will play well enough to supplant Iman Shumpert in the rotation, he certainly will have the opportunity to show himself as a quality reserve, and offer badly needed depth for a Cleveland team that will begin the season shorthanded.
His one potentially above-average skill is spot-up shooting. A quick look at his chart from last year:
Lots of threes (from all over the place), a few shots at the rim, and very little in between... which is exactly the way it should be. Harris hit 37 percent of his three pointers with the Cavs while hoisting more than six of them per-36 minutes; 70 percent of his total field goal attempts came from beyond the arc. He knows what his role is, and to his credit, he works very hard at getting himself open, displaying a subtle ability to run his man into screeners by using precise, well-timed cuts. This video from his time in the D-League displays this skill well:
When opposing teams started to crowd him, he showed the ability to put the ball on the floor and create offense:
While it's unlikely he'd have the same kind of playmaking success against NBA-caliber athletes on a nightly basis, what's important to note is his mindset. He stretches the floor, and if that's been taken away, he tries to get to the paint, either for a close shot or to create for his teammates.
Defensively, he must improve, as is the case with almost every young NBA player. His lack of physical gifts mean he'll probably never be a lockdown defender. If he's playing on a second unit with Matthew Dellavedova, Richard Jefferson, and/or James Jones out on the wing, that could be problematic. Middling athletes can become solid team defenders with enough experience and work; if the coaching staff feels they can trust Harris defensively, that'll go a long way towards him earning consistent playing time.
One thing is for certain: given the Cavs' injury issues, and their need for a guy with Joe Harris' skill set in their rotation, it's unlikely he ends up on the bus to Canton as often as he did last season, which everyone, especially Joe, will be thankful for: