Well we're now just three days away from draft day, and it's time to take a look at another potential target for the #26 pick of the 2011 NBA draft. If you read my last post, you will find an overview of the Mavs' likely roster for 2011-12 and what positions are most likely to be addressed in the draft. I won't repeat all the nitty gritty details here, but I'll reiterate what I believe to be the three types of players the Mavs will be looking to draft:
1. A role-playing PF who can contribute immediately as a 12-minute backup to Dirk
2. A developmental SF who will fight for backup minutes over the next couple of years and hopefully earn a starting spot in 2013-14
3. Anyone who can be stashed overseas and develop without taking up a roster spot
With that being said, let's take a look at Richmond Senior Justin Harper.
If you've looked at any mock drafts to see who the popular choices for the 26th pick are, you have likely seen Justin Harper's name repeatedly. Dozens of mockers seem to feel that Harper will be on the board in the late 1st round and that Dallas will feel that he is a good fit for their system.
Offensively, Harper is known for his jump shot, which has been his bread-and-butter at Richmond. While he has shot a very respectable 53% from the field, most surprising is his 45% success rate from the arc. Harper spends much of his time behind the 3-point line, from which he is an excellent spot-up shooter. His range seems likely to go beyond the NBA line, so his shooting successes should continue at the next level. He handles the ball well for a power forward, and is capable of running the pick-and-pop with reasonable success. Though he exhibits some useful post moves, he is not a powerful player in the low post (offensively or defensively), especially at the NBA level. It should also be noted that his extremely successful 3-point shooting was only evident in his senior year, which should leave potential drafters concerned about the possibility of regression.
Most of the criticisms of Justin Harper come from the defensive side, where he is viewed as a classic tweener. At 6'10", 225 pounds, Harper lacks the bulk to defend larger power forwards in the NBA, and he lacks the quickness to match up against small forwards. His rebounding is also suspect, with him grabbing less than 7 boards per game at Richmond. If he will succeed at the NBA level, Harper will need to add more weight to his frame in order to hold his own in the post and box out potential rebounders.
Overall, Harper seems like an intriguing choice for the Mavs' roster. With the likely departure of JJ and Peja, the Mavs will be in need of another capable 3-point shooter. Harper seems capable of filling that role quickly, possibly developing into a Channing Frye-like role. As an athletic player capable of backing up the 3 or the 4, the Mavs would continue to add versatility to their bench with Harper. However, with likely only two roster spots open for new players, Dallas would be forced to forgo one of its two pressing needs: a true backup point guard or a low post presence. If they can trust Roddy to fill the backup role, however, they will have room for Harper to bring his unique skillset to Dallas.