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Player Preview: Devin Harris is the most amazing backup point guard

Why Harris isn't but also is the greatest player to play for the Mavericks.

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Devin Harris is not the greatest player to ever put on a Mavericks uniform...but he might be, you know?

For those of you who haven't been keeping track, Devin Harris is probably my favorite not-Dirk Maverick just about ever, and I was beside myself with excitement when he was signed last season. I remain thrilled now.

I want it to be very clear, my excitement is not contrived, nor am I trying to make fun Harris or his play. I really am just this excited. He's awesome.

Long live Devin Harris.

Looking at last year

Devin Harris is a walking paradox who doesn't feel like a walking a paradox. He's an inconsistent player who still always seems to be exactly who he is supposed to be, and who he has always been. That makes absolutely no sense, like, none at all, but it felt profoundly true when I wrote it, and even still upon re-reading.

The point, really, is that Harris' play was all over the place, but you never watched him last year and felt like he was capital-B Bad. Not during one game, despite shooting sub-40% from the floor for the season, coming back from rather serious toe-surgery.

His poor shooting was an obvious problem, but it never got to where he took a shot and you thought "oh please, NO." With the exception, maybe, of his propensity to shoot an off-the-dribble 3 with 35 seconds left on the shot clock in any attempt to capitalize on the two-for-one. Those shots were like clockwork, and definitely infuriating.

His poor shooting aside, Devin would regularly go for 19 points in one game, then only 7 the next, with 5 threes in one game and then he'd go 0-8 in his next 4 games.

It never felt like he was inconsistent though. Which, really, he wasn't, in a lot of ways. As the backup point, Devin really needs to do a few things:

  1. Be really fast
  2. Shoot spot up 3s well
  3. Pass well in drive-and-kicks and pick and rolls
  4. Play solid defense

Devin succeeded in doing those things almost every time he played, so the rest just didn't matter much. A lot of blown floaters? Whatever. Missed midrange jumper? Sure. Crazy scoring streak where he can't miss at all? We'll take it.

Look, Dallas' offense ran a lot better with him on the floor than with him off (they were the league's best offense by a mile in those instances). They needed him to space the floor, create for his teammates, and defend, and he did those things always. Decision making be damned, he was a huge asset to the team last season.

But also, who cares about his mistakes? In the case of Devin Harris, they're fun mistakes. Missed floaters are chunked up with him running like 20 miles an hour into the heart of the defense. 3-pointers are fired with the most badass and ballsy of impunity.

Devin's so great because he's just about the league's only cerebral gunner. He does what he wants, when he wants to do it, but he also never really does anything that genuinely hurts the team.

He's a paradox who doesn't feel like a paradox.

Or something.

Best case scenario

In an ideal world, Devin starts the season fully recovered from his toe injury, and it turns out that he was hampered by it more than we thought last season.

Devin was a monster in the playoffs last season against the Spurs, feasting on the open lanes created by the basically perpetual double teams on Dirk and taking massive advantage of some absurdly hot shooting. If he comes into the 2014-15 season playing like playoffs Devin, the Mavericks could easily score 130+ points per game.

But even if he's 75% as good as he was in the playoffs, but his shooting improves to something around 43-44 percent and his defense and his sense of his role on the team stays intact, he'll have a very big -- maybe even JET-like -- season.

In the likely best-case scenario, basketball is also really fun because all basketball with Devin Harris is more fun than basketball without Devin Harris, and that's a fact.

Worst case scenario

There is no worst case scenario because Devin Harris can't do bad basketball things.

I mean...if he were to continue struggling to shoot the ball, but he lost his sense of his role in the team, and what he really needs to do for team success and he just went full gunner, that would be an issue.

But that won't happen, because Devin wouldn't let us down like that. He's too awesome.

Offseason antics

Devin Harris did some cool things this summer! He rode on a camel with Chandler Parsons:

And he took a badass selfie with the rest of the Mavericks:




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