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Joe Harris continues to flourish in 2018-19

Joe Harris’ breakthrough offensive performance this season has been promising as this young Brooklyn Nets team continues to develop.

Despite a 6-8 start to the season, the Brooklyn Nets have plenty of reasons to be excited about the progression they’ve seen from their roster this season. Heading into the season, there were multiple names on the roster who were expected to take the next step. While he may not have been one of those names, Joe Harris is undoubtedly stepping up to the plate and delivering for the Nets.

The 27-year-old shooting guard has been a fundamental piece for Kenny Atkinson’s offense this season. Perfect for the pace-and-space game Atkinson employs, Harris has found a home in the starting lineup and has started all 14 games so far this season, matching the amount of starts he saw last season through 78 total games.

Joe Harris has, almost overnight, become an elite shooter from outside the arc. His emphasis on being a sharpshooter for this Nets team is obvious, as he went from 49th in the league last year in 3-pointers made per 100 possessions to 15th this year.

After nailing 1.9 3-pointers per game on 41.9 percent shooting last season, he has managed to bump those numbers up to 2.8 a game at an astounding efficiency of 53.4 percent. To put that into perspective, only three teammates of Harris’ have a more efficient overall field goal percentage (Kenneth Faried, Jarrett Allen and Ed Davis), and all three take well over half of their attempts within three feet of the rim.

The numbers he is putting up this season don’t just make him one of the best shooters on his team — they make him one of the best shooters in the league. His 53.4 percent efficiency is leading the NBA and groups him with only four other players currently shooting at least 50 percent.

His ability to stay efficient and provide volume cannot be understated. Harris is tied for seventh in the league in made 3-point shots, but is 48th in 3-point attempts. For reference, he is making as many 3s as guys like Klay Thompson, yet only chucking them up about as often as guys like Kyle Kuzma.

Let that sink in.

History suggests that this is at least mildly anomalous, and he should eventually regress to the mean to some extent. That extent, however, might not be very drastic. When you look at how he has been shooting game by game, it is worth noting that his incredible averages aren’t because of a couple game hot streak or because he shot the lights out one night. He has been incredibly consistent.

Out of the 14 games thus far into the season, Joe Harris has only shot less than 50 percent from deep four times. He has also yet to have a game where he didn’t record at least one 3-pointer and has tallied eight games having scored three or more. As it stands, Harris is on pace to claim the second best 3-point shooting percentage season of all time, just 0.2 percent behind Kyle Korver’s 2009-10 campaign.

The evolution of Joe Harris has been incredibly impactful for the Nets’ offense. Having him on the floor opens up passing lanes and driving lanes to the benefit of young players like Jarrett Allen and Caris LeVert. All of Harris’ 3s coming off of assists is indicative of how well the ball moves when he on the court.

The numbers suggest that Brooklyn’s offense is at its best when he is seeing action. With an on/off +8.5 per 100 possessions, Joe Harris’ name is present in almost all the Nets’ best lineups. Among the 12 three-man rotations that are have a positive plus/minus for Brooklyn, only four do not feature Harris. The same rings true for their four-man rotations, where you can find him in seven of the 10 lineups with a positive plus/minus.

Next: The 50 greatest NBA players of all time (updated for 2017-18)

While he was great for the team last year, something is different for Joe Harris this year, propelling his game to new heights. It could be the way Atkinson has them playing, the new beard, the confidence instilled by signing a meaningful contract with Brooklyn and knowing the team values him. Maybe it’s a little bit of everything all put together. Whatever it is though, the Nets surely hope he can continue to channel this version of himself.

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