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NBA Scout on Harris: "People are calling...but it's a hard road"

In addition to Saturday’s story on Paul Harris, here’s what NBA Director of Scouting Ryan Blake had to say about the former Niagara Falls phenom. It's been a rocky path for Harris the past few years, but he's still clinging to pro dreams. 

Blake has seen Harris in action with the Maine Red Claws multiple times this season and thinks he has a chance. Below, the scout talks about Harris’ leadership abilities, where he needs to improve defensively, whether teams are tracking him and more.

On what stands out initially with Harris:

“He’s kind of in-between positions. When you look at the league right now, it’s a league that just has players. Whether not a team has a 6-10 power forward or a 6-2 shooting guard, they’re looking for people that know how to play, that have experience. Players that just aren’t athletes, but know how to play.

“Paul, what I like about him now, is that he’s a leader. He’s very vocal, very energetic and plays hard. Some concerns we still have on him, although he’s an energetic rebounder, he sort of has that in-between game. He doesn’t have that position and sometimes gets lost on defensive rotations. Defensively, we have to figured out where he could play.

“Now, when it comes to someone playing in the D-League and someone on the cusp of making the NBA, it’s very minimal. It takes the opinion of only one team or one scout that could give him that opportunity.”

On what Harris needs to do to make it:

“He played OK in summer league. People are calling on him. But it’s a hard road. This is not an offensive opportunity to make it into the league. You have to play on both ends of the floor. When you come in, you’re not going to come into the NBA as a scorer. You’re going to come in playing a role and, most importantly, you’re coming in as a distributor/defender. If you don’t defend or don’t know defensive rotations, you’re not going to get that opportunity.

“Defense is not just about intensity. It’s about rotations, about knowing where to be. Not saying he doesn’t have it, but he has to grasp it. Sometimes you need that defensive experience. You need to grind it into you until you finally get it. Just because he’s out of college doesn’t mean he’s not going to develop it.”

On if NBA teams are keeping a close eye on Harris:

“The D-League is the most scouted professional league in the world. Everybody’s going to have a grasp on it. He has a great coach in Austin Ainge up there and (assistant coach) Hernando (Planells) is a great developer as well. When you have two guys like that, and there are guys on that team that teams want to see. Is there interest? There’s always going to be interest because if a team isn’t scouting the D-League they’re not doing their job.”

On if he thinks Harris will get a shot:

“I don’t know. I don’t know. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and there are a lot of pretty players out there. There are a lot of beauties. What I do think is if you get him Olympic-conditioned and you play hard, that’s the best you can do.”

---Tyler Dunne

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