When my favorite NBA team, the Cleveland Cavaliers, drafted former Virginia Cavalier Joe Harris in June, I was ecstatic. Not only was I excited that the star of the UVa team that won an ACC title for the first time in 30 years was being drafted into the NBA, but he was going to Cleveland as well. After the Cavaliers added Lebron James, Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion, and James Jones, Cleveland became a title contender and I figured Joe Harris would relegated to the D League or only get playing time during blowouts. Last year only half of the second round picks even played in the NBA and only one of them had more than 40 minutes of total playing time and 15 points at this point of the season.
Luckily Joe Harris made the opening day roster, and even got some last minute playing time in three of Cleveland’s first five games. Then starting shooting guard Dion Waiters injured his back in the fifth game, allowing Harris to get extended minutes against New Orleans last week. The 23 year old rookie has not looked back since.
In the past three games, Harris has played an average of 20 minutes a game, hit 6 three pointers and has led the All-Star stacked team with a +/- of +65. In a close game against the Celtics, the second round pick played in the closing minutes including hitting a 3-pointer with 3 minutes to go. Against Atlanta over the weekend, Harris entered in the first quarter and drained two 3-pointers igniting the rout of the Hawks. Only two players chosen #25 or later in this year's draft have more minutes or points than Harris.
Here is some of the praise from the Cavaliers' coach David Blatt so far:
"He's a very, very positive worker, nose to the grindstone, doesn't say a whole lot, listens to the veteran guys, fits in with what we're doing and he plays as hard as he possibly can regardless of the situation. That's what you want. Joe brought energy; he brought commitment to both ends. Our scouting department did a heckuva job getting Joe with that pick"
Even the best player in the world is on the Joe Harris bandwagon:
"He was huge," Lebron James said. "Joe Harris is going to be a big piece for our team.”
Now there are reports that the former Virginia Cavalier star could be in the Cleveland Cavalier’s starting lineup soon.
“With the way he is progressing and as well as he is playing, Joe Harris will be the starting shooting guard sooner rather than later. Much sooner. As in within a couple of weeks (or less), one source with knowledge of the team’s thinking said. At least one member of the Cavs’ brain trust is already in favor of the switch.”
It has been quite the rise for a player who only people in Charlottesville were swooning about last year. I already have my jersey: