D-League Is Where Harris Should Be

(David Banks -- USA Today Sports)

(David Banks — USA Today Sports)

This is not what the Nuggets envisioned out of their first round draft pick this year. This is not what Gary Harris thought would happen when he was traded up on draft night by the Nuggets. This hasn’t worked out for both parties.

The Nuggets thought Harris would be learning on the job and contributing  for them this season when they drafted him this summer. They thought he could be decent. He thought he could be a player the Nuggets can rely on off the bench.

It hasn’t turned out that way. The Nuggets rookie has languished on the bench often this season. Prior to the Nuggets’ disgusting 99-69 loss to the Grizzlies last night at Memphis, he did not enter the court in six of the seven games the Nuggets played. It was a good bet he wouldn’t get playing time last night if the Nuggets made it a competitive game.

It’s never good when a rookie is playing because Nuggets coach Brian Shaw has no choice but to throw him out there in a game that was over by the third quarter last night.

The Michigan State great averaged 3.3 points per game in 21 games he played this season. His best performance came on Nov. 14 when he scored 13 points against the Pacers in his hometown. Outside of that, he has been nondescript at best.

This begs this question. Why isn’t he playing in the NBA’s Developmental League?

If the Nuggets head coach does not think Harris is ready to play in a NBA game, there’s no reason to have him sitting and watching. He is not learning by watching other people play. He is not going to get into good basketball habits by rotting on the bench.

The rookie needs live action for him to gain confidence and play well. He needs to know from his mistakes by playing. The purpose of the developmental league is to develop players, and it would make sense if Harris learns his craft there.

He is not ready to play in the NBA. He can’t defend. He is not bulky enough to take the wear and tear by playing in a game. He does not have the stamina to play long minutes. He can’t shoot. The game is fast for him to learn, and that’s been a problem more than anything.

This is the life of a rookie. Harris knew this heading in. So did the Nuggets.

Shaw can’t have him on the court to learn on the job, especially if he is not ready. The coach’s job is to win games first and foremost. He can’t take the losses while guys are developing. It’s understandable.

Plus, the head coach can’t put his player out there if he does not deserve playing time. That is the case with Harris.

The rookie’s work in practice has to leave so much to be desired for him to not to play much. Shaw is desperately throwing anyone in the lineup just to get offense. He has put worthless bench players to see what he can get out of them. There’s something wrong if Harris is not getting playing time.

It’s hard to believe he will get much playing time this year or next year with the way it’s going for him.

This is why the Nuggets need to do Harris a favor and let him play in the D-League. They need to maximize their draft pick. Drafting means developing guys, too. This is where he benefits more.

This is on the Nuggets if he can’t do much for them. That would be called wasting a draft pick by making him sit on the bench.

Practice is great and all, but it does not define what a player does. Gameday action does. It’s where Harris can apply against live competition no matter what league he is playing in. A game in the D-League is not meaningless when a rookie is learning on the job. It’s called honing his craft.

Harris has kept his mouth shut, which is what one expects rookies to do. He hasn’t made waves and complained about his situation. He has had a good attitude by working hard each day at practice. He always asks questions to his teammates and coaches.

He has done everything the Nuggets asked him to do.

Still, they are doing him a disservice by having him on the team.

They should do the right thing for themselves and Harris to send him far away from the team.

Last thing the Nuggets need is to have a reputation of destroying a draft pick.

The NBA is the last place Harris needs to be.

Follow or Contact Leslie Monteiro: @LightRodWriter

Leslie Monteiro

Leslie Monteiro

Leslie is a contributor for Lightning Rod Sports. He covered high school sports in Bergen County out in North Jersey, and has written op-ed columns on sports such as Bleacher Report and NY Sports Digest.

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