Mar 28, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Michigan State Spartans guard Gary Harris (14) drives to the basket against Virginia Cavaliers guard Malcolm Brogdon (15) during the second half in the semifinals of the east regional of the 2014 NCAA Mens Basketball Championship tournament at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Draft: Gary Harris is the high floor, low-upside guard


Draft Express’ current mock suggests the Suns will take Gary Harris with the 14th pick this year. Let’s see why he’s slotted to go in the middle of the first round in such a good draft.

Strengths

Harris is the pretty much what you want in a guard. He has excellent mechanics, range and accuracy in his jump shot out to the three-point line. He can play off the ball using screens, act as a threat in the corner or get open looks in transition. He seems to be a lockdown defender. Harris has the requisite lateral quickness to keep even the fastest guards in front of him, and with his quick hands will pry the ball from his opponent. Harris has the basketball IQ that you want from your point guard. He uses his bigger frame well, can pass when he should, and is aware of everything on both ends of the court. So where will he play at the next level?

“Wherever the team needs me,” Harris said after his Suns workout. “I feel like I can be a combo guard, just be able to play both positions.”

Weaknesses

Harris didn’t measure well (6-foot-2.5 without shoes) for an NBA shooting guard during the NBA Draft Combine and will have to prove he’s capable of playing some point guard on the offensive end. He didn’t get to play much point playing alongside Keith Appling at Michigan State.

Harris’ shooting percentages dropped from 46 percent his freshman season to 43 percent during his sophomore campaign. His three-point accuracy also dipped even though his scoring increased.

“I think he was dealing with some injuries this last year,” Suns general manager Ryan McDonough said on Monday. “I think he was banged up. He’s one of the better two-way players in the draft, I think. Certainly shot the ball well out here today and his ability to defend stood out.”

X-factor:

Harris could end up being similar to George Hill of the Indiana Pacers, a tweener guard who can defend and knock down open shots. Playing two seasons under coach Tom Izzo certainly helped his growth, and though his size might be viewed as an issue, Harris proved to be a solid enough playmaker to warrant consideration for taking on point guard duties.

How does he fit with the Suns:

His lockdown defense would tremendously help Phoenix, keeping opposing guards on the perimeter and keeping the Suns bigs out of foul trouble — they won’t have to rotate over and help breakdowns. Harris can stretch the floor and would be a complementary piece to whatever backcourt Phoenix rolls out in the next few seasons.

Kevin Zimmerman contributed to this article

Tags: 2014 NBA Draft