Entering his 14th NBA season (9th with Dallas) and turning 34 this year, Devin Harris is in the back end of his career. Harris has experienced all the cycles of being an NBA point guard: promising rookie, NBA All-Star, and veteran bench contributor. The experience that he brings to the Mavs will be his most important contribution in the 2017-2018 season.
2016-2017 Season in Review
Last season Harris played in 65 games, averaging 16 minutes per contest. During his 16 minutes he averaged 6.7 points, 2.1 assists, and roughly 1 three pointer per game. Arguably, his best game came against Oklahoma City on March 27th, when he tallied 12 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 steals and made 1 three pointer while having a plus-minus of +23 in 21 minutes played. His highest assist game of the season was the last game of the season against Memphis. He had 8 assists while contributing 15 points, 1 steal, and 2 rebounds in 19 minutes.
Father Time has caused him to lose a step but he still has the ability to quickly attack off the dribble, bring the defense in, and toss a lob for an alley-oop to any of the Mavs centers. Mavs fans got to experience this with multiple connections to high-flyer Dwight Powell. He also showed the same type of chemistry in the hand full of games that he played with Nerlens Noel.
2017-2018 Season Outlook
Harris enters the 2017-2018 season on the last year of his 4 year $16.6 million contract that he signed with Dallas in 2014. This season he has a total salary of $4.4 million with $1.3 million guaranteed. Due to his reasonable contract, his experience coming off the bench, and his veteran status, Harris could be a potential trade piece towards the trade deadline for contenders looking for point guard help off the bench. Although he has become a staple rotation player in Dallas, the Mavs shipped him off once (for Jason Kidd) and I would not be surprised if they did so again, especially if Dallas is at the bottom of the standings and is looking for draft picks.
With the arrival of Dennis Smith Jr. and with Seth Curry as well as JJ Barea returning, Harris could see even less playing time than he did last year, depending on injuries and if Coach Rick Carlisle wants to use Curry at the PG spot at times. I see Devin being designated to lead the second unit that saw a combo of Harris, Nowitzki, and Powell for a few minutes at a time last year.
Outside of potentially leading the second unit Harris’s most important contribution to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2017-2018 season will be the knowledge that he bestows upon Dennis Smith Jr.. The Mavs and DSJ both won the lottery in their own respective rights this off-season. Dallas got a potential Rookie of the Year and Dennis Smith gets to be on a squad that features two point guards with valuable experience in Harris and Barea.
Although Harris does not own a championship ring like Barea does, he has been around the league and has been an All-Star before. He had to lead a New Jersey Nets team that saw Harris replace perennial All-Star Jason Kidd, a tall order for a 25 year old at the time. The season after Dallas traded him, Harris was named an All-Star in the Eastern Conference and averaged 21.3 points, 6.9 assists, and 1.7 steals in 36 minutes played.
Harris and DSJ share similarities in size and quickness, so Harris should be able to relate his early experiences on the court to those of DSJ. This year, Harris can bring value to the Mavs organization by being the teacher, confidant, and leader that a young, explosive, and potentially great rookie Dennis Smith Jr. will need. The Dallas Mavericks have always valued experienced veterans on their team.
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