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Stat of the Week: the growth of Gary Harris

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After dealing with multiple injuries, Gary Harris has improved his game and lifted the Nuggets in the process.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Denver Nuggets Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

In the last three games, Gary Harris has put up some incredible numbers while playing pesky defense.

Gary Harris statistics the last three games:

Points per game Assists per game Rebounds per game Steals per game Field Goal % 3 point % Free throw %
19.3 4.0 3.0 1.7 66.7 63.6 63.6

Only four guards have been able to match those per game numbers this season: Jimmy Butler, John Wall, Eric Bledsoe, and Stephen Curry.

Now, shooting over 60 percent from the field and beyond the arc is completely unsustainable, and based on his field goal attempts per contest, 19 points per game may be too much to ask for the rest of the season. That being said, there’s no reason that Harris couldn’t average 15 points per game on about 45 percent from the field and 40 percent from beyond the arc. If he maintained his assist and rebound numbers, he would still be in elite company.

The real impact with Harris has been with his teammates. Nikola Jokic gets a fair amount of credit for making his teammates’ numbers look better, but Harris deserves credit too. How many Jokic passes have we seen to Harris for an easy layup or dunk? There are at least two Jokic assists each game that can be credited to this simple action by a hard working player. Simple, yet effective.

Take a look at these drastic splits for the Denver Nuggets when Harris is on the court versus off.

Denver Nuggets team statistics with Harris On/Off the floor:

Field Goal % 3 point % Points per minute Assists per minute Rebounds per minute Steals per minute
Harris On the floor 63.5% 61.2% 3.00 Pts/min 0.75 Ast/min 0.81 Reb/min 0.18 Stl/min
Harris Off the floor 36.1% 24.2% 1.84 Pts/min 0.27 Ast/min 0.83 Reb/min 0.12 Stl/min

While the Nuggets’ starting lineup as a whole has performed well, no player has had such a large per minute impact through the last three games with the exception of Harris’s backcourt running mate, Emmanuel Mudiay. Could this be a new divide between the backcourts? Mudiay and Harris have been an incredibly potent combination since last year, and they look like the clear starters going forward.

Harris hasn’t just had a positive effect on the starters, but on members of the bench as well. His Net Rating is largely positive in every single two-man lineup combination the last three games. The only negative combo? Harris and Jameer Nelson, a.k.a. when Mudiay isn’t on the floor.

Gary Harris two-man lineups:

NBA.com

Overall, there’s plenty for Nuggets fans to be very excited about with regards to Gary Harris. He’s aggressive, explosive, and efficient, which is all anyone can ask for at this point. Both he and Jokic make the game easier for the remaining three players in the lineup, no matter who they are. At this point it’s clear that the Nuggets’ most forgotten young prospect in Harris has become one of the best in the NBA in just three short games.