The Laker team is down to eight players. Pau Gasol is out with an injury, again. Xavier Henry is working out harder just to get onto the floor, even if he isn’t 100%.
There’s a player in L.A.’s backyard that has made some noise lately, and his name is Manny Harris.
Who is Manny Harris?
He’s a 6’5″ 210lb. shooting guard playing for the L.A. Defenders. Going undrafted in 2010, he made the final cut of the Cleveland Cavaliers roster. His rookie year, he started 15 games and averaged 5.9 points per game. During his 2nd year, his minutes remained the same at 17 per game, but progressed to 6.7 points per game.
Since he became an L.A. Defenders player, he’s had three games over 40 points, with his first game at 41 points on just 21 shot attempts from the field. He has put up Kobe-esque numbers since January 10th, starting with a 49 point, 6 rebound, 3 assist game, a 38 point, 10 rebound, 2 assist game, and most recently, 42 point, 8 rebound, 3 assist game.
“But it’s the NBDL,” you may say. While that’s true, solid NBA players tend to put up stellar games at the NBDL level.
His game is similar to Jamal Crawford, without the advanced ball-handling skills. Crawford was projected as point guard when he was drafted, but found his identity as an elite 6th man isolation scoring wing player. Manny Harris is of the same mold. He’s a solid athlete with a good first step. More importantly, he gets great elevation on his shots from midrange and is able to shoot over defenders. He uses jab-steps, a change of direction, and elevation to create his own shot.
Video link here: Manny Harris Scores 49 points.
At 6’5″ with a 6’7″ wingspan, he has some physical tools to be a solid defender. He’s light on his feet and has averaged over 2.2 steals per game in 38 minutes per contest at the NBDL level. More importantly, he’s not reliant on a 3-point shot to rack up points. He’s more adept to putting defenders on their heels, creating contact through aggressive play, and going to the free throw line. He averages ten attempts at the free throw line per game.
While statistics at the NBDL level may be considered inflated due to pace, there’s no question that Manny Harris is taking advantage of the pace and putting up huge numbers. It’s one thing to come out with one explosive scoring output. It’s another thing altogether to put up multiple explosive scoring outputs consistently. He could improve his intensity on defense, refine his 3-point shot, and add some strength against bigger NBA defenders, but it’s clear he has NBA-level talent and is just now coming into his own. The next step for him is building his confidence against NBA level defenders carrying more of a scoring responsibility.
The Lakers have a lot of wing players with upside. The player that stands out most is Xavier Henry, with his ability to attack the basket, energy on defense, and great first step. Manny brings more skills from midrange and could be a great player to have on the floor when Nick Young takes a seat. The Bulls just signed Cartier Martin to help replenish their roster. It wouldn’t hurt for Harris to get a call up from the Lakers. It wouldn’t hurt the Lakers to get some scoring output on the floor.