Anchored by Joel Embiid down low and Ben Simmons on the perimeter, the Philadelphia 76ers fielded what was arguably the best defensive front in the Association last season. And while Simmons’ future with the club is up in the air, the Sixers remain intent on locking everyone down again in 2021-22, too.
To that end, the team has reportedly inked a legitimate lockdown specialist to a training camp deal. However, he’ll have to duke it out for a roster spot.
As reported via Twitter by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski ahead of Sixers Media Day, journeyman wing Shaquille Harrison is headed to Philly.
Harrison split time with the Utah Jazz and the Denver Nuggets last season, averaging 2.1 points and 1.7 rebounds over 34 combined appearances. Prior to that, the 6-foot-7 wing spent two years with the Chicago Bulls after originally coming up through the Phoenix Suns developmental system.
Shaq Is a Double-Edged Sword
Harrison has been one of the better defenders in the league since his early days as a pro. The four-year veteran has averaged a combined 3.1 steals and blocks per 36 minutes over his career. And in his 277 minutes with the Nuggets down the stretch last season, they conceded just 106.6 points per 100 possessions when Harrison was on the floor.
As good as he is on that end, though, he has brought significantly less to the table offensively since making the NBA jump. Harrison has a career effective field goal percentage of just 46.7; last season, that number dipped to 35.3%. And he poses little to no threat as a floor-spacer, connecting on just 28.3% of his triples overall.
Sure, his highlight reels feature some impressive throwdowns, but he hasn’t shown an ability to consistently produce points — on his own or with the help of his teammates.
Given his deficit on that end of the floor, it’s difficult to see him making an impact for the Sixers this season. Harrison was basically unplayable during the Nuggets’ second-round series with the Phoenix Suns despite having become a regular member of Denver’s second unit over the final weeks of the ’20-21 season.
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An Affiliate Option?
Earning a roster spot will be a challenge for Harrison; even if he does make the team, he would likely only play situationally for matchup reasons or in the event of widespread injuries or COVID-19 issues. Still, his strength, nose for the ball and effort level defensively are all next level.
Ultimately, his best pathway to showing those attributes off and earning a regular spot (in Philly or elsewhere) may be the G League. Although Harrison has nearly 200 NBA games under his belt — he even started some games for the Bulls — he has struggled to hold down a regular gig in recent years.
A run in developmental, perhaps with the Delaware Blue Coats, would give him the precious floor time he needs to show that he still has a place at the NBA level.
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