One thing is for certain. We will know the decision of the Harrison Twins by midnight Sunday night. No one expected this decision to take so long, but there are a few variables that is delaying the decision. First and foremost is the one that this more than likely will be a package deal either to the NBA or back to the Kentucky Wildcats. It’s tough enough to come to the decision for one player, much less two.
Another may be the fact that evaluating Andrew Harrison is proving to be a tough choice for the NBA folks. John Gasaway over at ESPN had a piece the other day on “9 players hurting their teams” and I was honestly shocked to see Andrew Harrison on the list. I certainly don’t think that John Calipari or anyone involved with Kentucky basketball would say Harrison hurts the team, but hey, you know what they say about opinions.
Andrew Harrison, Kentucky Wildcats
Assuming he declares for the draft — no word there yet — Harrison will present a fairly fascinating evaluative problem for NBA front offices. Can you really spend a first-round pick on one of just seven major-conference players who recorded 200 or more 2-point attempts yet failed to make 40 percent of those shots? We may be about to find out. Harrison, of course, has good size for a point guard, and he has shown beyond a doubt he can draw fouls. That plus potential may be enough to land him a spot in the first round, but the material point is that is all there is in terms of demonstrated performance to this point.
That ESPN piece is an “insiders piece” so I will give a spoiler and tell you that Harrison is by far, the biggest name on that list and the only one that has to make a NBA decision. I have to give Glenn Logan from “A Sea of Blue” credit for the find and if you know Glenn, well he opines on the piece. The thing I like about Glenn is he is not the knee jerk reaction type of UK fan/writer that will take a columnist to task (except for Jeff Goodman – heh) for writing something bad about a UK player or a bad headline. Glenn actually researched Gasaway’s claim and found that if Harrison does return to UK, he may need to change his game a bit.
This is an excellent point. Aaron Harrison made only 49.1% of his shots at the rim this season, an exceedingly low number. For example, James Young made 62% of his shots at the rim, his brother Aaron 67%. Now, consider the number of shots he got there: 109 times, or 33% of his shots were taken at the rim. Of those, he made 54. (Stat source: Hoop-Math)
Worse still, Andrew made only 27% of his 2-point jump shots, and 35% of his 3-point jumpers. For a guy taking only 60 fewer shots than Julius Randle, those percentages, for lack of a better word, suck.
So what do these numbers mean? Well, you remember how Archie Goodwin used to drive to the basket a lot. Last season, Archie took 175 shots at the rim, but he made 61% of them (107). Ryan Harrow made 63% of his 95 shots taken at the rim (60). Even Marquis Teague, who also struggled to shoot close in, made 55.5% of his shots at the rim.
So you can see the problem here. Andrew made a very poor percentage of his shots taken by the basket, and that really hurt the team’s shooting percentage. Part of this is because Andrew was the primary culprit in what I referred to as the Dribble Drive Fling, and Hope that Kentucky seemed to be running all too often this season. I don’t blame Andrew for this as much as I do John Calipari, who seemed to insist that Kentucky try to take advantage of the new emphasis on impeding the man with the ball.
After reading these, I do see part of why the NBA teams are slower to give the Harrisons the assurance they are looking for. I don’t claim to have a clue what the Harrisons have been told by the NBA scouts, but there is a very strong argument for returning to Kentucky and improving their stock.