CHARLOTTE, N.C. — OK, the secret is officially out.
Joe Harris is not just a really good outside shooter. He’s one of the NBA’s best.
This is something Harris’ Nets teammates knew even before he defeated Stephen Curry for the three-point shooting title at All-Star Saturday night. But it seems that Harris, somewhat like the Nets themselves, had been pretty much overlooked by the rest of the league.
“Tried to tell y’all Joe and Steph the 2 best shooters in the world,” Net Spencer Dinwiddie tweeted Saturday night.
Tweeted teammate DeMarre Carroll: “Why I’m so pumped . . . The @NBA didn’t even want to put him in the contest . . . he was the last one in . . . and beat EVERYBODY.”
Entering the All-Star break, Harris was shooting 47.1 percent from three-point range and ranked second in the league behind the Spurs' Davis Bertans, who is shooting 47.6 percent. The only player in Nets history to be over 45.0 percent going into the All-Star break with a minimum of 100 attempts was the late Drazen Petrovic at 47.2 in 1992-93.
Harris, whom the Cleveland Cavaliers took in the second round of the 2015 draft, is in the middle of his best season as a pro. He has started all 54 games in which he has played, averaging 13.9 points. He was particularly hot heading into the All-Star break, averaging 21.2 points and shooting 18-for-26 from downtown in his last four games.
Because he wasn’t exactly a household name entering the season — until this season, he had never started more than 14 games — the Nets had to campaign for Harris to get invited to Saturday's competition. . In January, the team tweeted a video in which Harris visited everyday venues around Brooklyn. In a grocery store, he tossed oranges into a shopping card. At a laundromat, he threw clothes into a hamper. In a kitchen, he shot eggs into a hot skillet.
Harris certainly showed that he belonged, stealing the thunder from the Curry brothers, Steph and Seth, both of whom were in the event and were treated somewhat like royalty during All-Star Weekend in Charlotte, given that they grew up here and their father, Dell Curry, played here.
Steph was able to beat out his brother but couldn’t beat out Harris, who hit all five of his money balls — the final rack that is worth two points each — in the finals of the contest. Curry, who went last, hit his first nine shots but then had one of his money balls go in and out and ended up losing to Harris, 26-24, in the championship round.
“It was a tough way to end it, but Joe shot the lights out,” Curry said. “It was a great show.”
Make that a great coming-out party, as Harris now may start getting the respect he deserves as a shooter.
Harris, whose first two years in Cleveland included a stint in the D-League, knows he has followed a unique path to get where he is.
“It sometimes takes guys longer than others,” Harris said when asked Saturday about his development as a player. “Some guys come in right away and are able to contribute. But I think you look at the makeup of our Brooklyn Nets team, and it's a lot of guys that were sort of cast off and had a second opportunity. I personally was one of those guys, and I got lucky going into a situation, going to a Nets organization that had such a strong value and emphasis on culture, skill development, and I'm sort of a byproduct of that system.”
A system that knows how to support its own, judging from all the tweets on Saturday night.
Tweeted Jared Dudley: ''Crazy! Now the world knows what we been seeing all season! Congrats @joeharrisbball''