In the buildup to training camp beginning Sept. 27, BSN Denver is profiling the Nuggets roster player by player, reflecting on their performance last year and what they have to prove in training camp, preseason, and throughout the regular season to have a productive 2016-17 campaign.
Gary Harris: 6-foot-4, 210 pounds
2015-16 season averages: 76 games (76 starts), 32.1 minutes, 12.3 points (46.9 FG%, 35.4 3PT%), 2.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.7 steals
Projected role: Starting shooting guard
Training camp outlook
Gary Harris comes into his third year with substantial momentum. The front office and coaching staff have been extremely vocal about the amount of work Harris has already put in and the fact he is the undisputed starting shooting guard. Add in the leap that Harris took from his freshman to sophomore season and it seems that Harris’s confidence should be as high, if not higher, than it has ever been. He improved in nearly every category while playing almost 20 minutes per game more from his rookie season to his sophomore campaign.
Coming into his third season and being freshly 22 years old (birthday was September 14th) Harris still has ample room to grow. He has proven to be a plus-defender but still lacks offensive versatility. It seems the only additions Harris currently brings to the Nuggets on offense are spot-up corner three-point shots, attacking closeouts, and off ball cuts. He does not have the skill set to create for himself quite yet. Adding in the ability to handle the ball in the pick and roll or finding another way to create offensive gravity for himself is absolutely needed if he wants to strengthen his chances of becoming the Nuggets future shooting guard.
The last issue that should have been addressed throughout the offseason is bulking up. Harris was consistently struggling against stronger guards in the post or on the perimeter. He has gained 20 pounds of muscle, according to Tim Connelly and Michael Malone, and been in the gym non-stop. He has reiterated the same notion. When asked what he does in the offseason this was his answer:
[Chuckles]. Basketball. Basketball is really everything. I travel a lot, but really I try to stay low key. In the offseason I try to find some time to relax. I’m not on a strict schedule, you can do whatever you want but basketball is a part of everyday life. It’s everywhere we go [points to the ball next to him like it’s his baby]. That and relaxing.
Hopefully, come day one of training camp Harris is already on his way to becoming stronger while keeping his agility at the elite level he is currently at. He has the potential to become a high-level two-way player and it seems that he has the drive to see that goal come to fruition. Look for Harris to be a standout in training camp and preseason.