ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Nets three-point specialist Joe Harris missed the final 22 games last season after a hard fall on March 3 at Utah gave him a concussion and a left shoulder injury. His prolonged absence and the addition of perimeter shooters D’Angelo Russell, Allen Crabbe and DeMarre Carroll relegated Harris to afterthought status during the offseason, but his shooting in offseason workouts and training camp caught the eye of one newcomer.
Describing what the Nets must do to spread the floor and create room for Russell, Jeremy Lin and Sean Kilpatrick to drive to the basket, Carroll said, “For them to create, guys like myself and Allen Crabbe and Joe Harris have to be able to shoot the three-ball at a high rate to open the floor up.”
Harris shot 38.5 percent from three-point range last season, which was second on the Nets behind Quincy Acy (43.4). He had 138 more attempts than Acy.
The Nets did not practice Friday at the Naval Academy, but following Thursday’s practice, Harris said his goal this season is to join the NBA’s top three-point shooters.
“If you look at all the top shooters in the NBA, guys that might be specialists like how I see myself, they’re always 40 percent and above,” Harris said. “So, that’s a personal goal for me to get into that elite three-point shooting percentage.”
General manager Sean Marks and coach Kenny Atkinson have emphasized the need to improve the Nets’ three-point shooting because it’s central to their style of offense. The Nets ranked fourth last season in three-point attempts at 31.6 per game but only 26th in three-point shooting percentage at 33.8. The trade that sent Brook Lopez, who hit 134 threes last season, to the Lakers likely means Harris will play a larger role on the perimeter.
“Kenny loves the three-point shot,” Harris said. “He encourages guys to shoot it, he gives guys a lot of freedom and confidence. Our offense is really built for guys coming off screens, moving, there’s a lot of open threes. I definitely think with Brook gone there are going to be more opportunities for guys, especially our guards, to get more threes up.”
Harris said increased depth and improved shooting ability on the perimeter has led to intense training-camp competition for playing time.
“I think you’re going to see an increase in guys’ productivity just because it’s the whole ‘iron sharpening iron’ sort of a thing,” Harris said. “Guys are going to be very sharp and focused because of the competitive nature we’ve been having in practice.
“Regardless of who ends up seeing minutes, it’s going to benefit the team as a whole. It’s going to translate when we start playing and, hopefully, translate to the win column as well.”