The Orlando Magic are in the midst of a rebuilding process. After years of mediocrity and first-round playoff exits, the team officially hit the reset button last year at the NBA Trade Deadline. The Magic sent away their two best players in Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon for young talent in return. Vucevic went to Chicago while Gordon headed to Denver where he has been a perfect fit alongside Nikola Jokic. One player the Magic got in return was a relatively unknown commodity outside of Denver in Gary Harris. While the Magic are overloaded at the guard position, Harris has had a silently effective season.
Gary Harris is Finding His Form Again
For many years, many in Denver thought Harris to be one of the next up-and-coming stars in this league. His 2017-18 campaign did nothing but solidify this belief, as he tallied averages of 17.5 PPG, 1.8 SPG, and shot 39.6 percent from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, a plethora of nagging lower-body injuries that would follow in the coming years took away much of his explosiveness and as a result, saw his production take a dip. This coupled with the fact that the Nuggets were focused on developing Jamal Murray and Michael Porter to be Jokic’s future co-stars sadly made Harris expendable if the right trade was in place. After his career year in 2017-18, Harris would go on to average totals below 13 PPG, 1.5 SPG, and three-point shooting percentages below 35 percent.
Eventually, the Nuggets could not resist anymore. With the defensive void left by Jerami Grant, the Denver Nuggets were in desperate need of a player of the same prototype. When Aaron Gordon was made available, the Nuggets had to make the deal. It was a bittersweet day in the Mile High as the fanbase said goodbye to the longest-tenured player on the team, but knew they were about to become an instant contender by fixing a need that desperately needed to be fixed.
Harris’ Season So Far
Just looking at the basic statistics for the entire year will not tell the whole story of Gary Harris’ resurgence. The Magic may not be a juggernaut, but he is a bright spot they can be proud of and utilize in multiple ways. With the plethora of talented guards they already possess, Harris could be a key trade asset near the trade deadline they can use for leverage to fix other needs. If not, then Harris will continue to be a great mentor to the young players already on the Orlando Magic.
In the past five games as of January 20th, Harris has averaged 15.6 PPG on 44.8 percent shooting from the field to go along with a three-point shooting percentage of 38.6 percent in the past 15 games. Not to mention, he still possesses great perimeter defense. So far this season, the Michigan State product has only allowed five players to score over double figures when matched up with him. Those five players are Seth Curry, DeMar DeRozan, Terry Rozier, Cam Reddish, and Darius Garland. Notable players Harris has locked up defensively this year include the likes of Steph Curry, Bradley Beal, and Jrue Holiday just to name a few players. Whether Gary Harris will return to Denver and find himself elsewhere remains to be seen. One thing is for certain after this season; He is still a quality NBA player who can benefit anyone.