What happened to Devin Harris?
There was a thought, however fleeting, that the Utah Jazz might be able to trouble the San Antonio Spurs with their massive front line, similar to what the Memphis Grizzlies did in the playoffs a year ago.
There was a time, also fleeting, when the name Devin Harris could cause equal concern in San Antonio.
As this series shifts to Utah, the Jazz find themselves grasping at straws for anything to help change the outlook of this series. If they’re to make even one game competitive it will not be on the backs of their large front line, but on the one who changed the very nature of a series six years ago.
Then with the Mavericks, a young Devin Harris was inserted into the starting lineup and proceeded to run circles around the Spurs while suffocating Tony Parker.
It was enough that when the Mavericks eventually traded Harris to the Nets for Jason Kidd, few were as relieved as Parker.
Harris arrived in New Jersey billed as a quicker, better defensive version of Tony Parker.
Now Harris finds himself down 0-2 to his one-time adversary, and his combined 12 points and three assists through two games seem like something Parker could knock out in his sleep; especially since Parker no longer appears to be losing any over this matchup.
Harris isn’t the first nightmare scenario Parker has overcome. Once bullied by Marbury, Parker eventually worked his way through that. And the hard fouls that the Lakers delivered in 2004? They now ring as empty threats from a hopeless team.
It speaks to the underrated toughness Parker possess, tempered by Popovich’s ire, that he has moved on past both. As to what it says about Harris, who should still be in his prime–that remains a mystery.
Injuries befuddled Harris in New Jersey, stalling a promising first season there. But he’s been relatively healthy in recent seasons and finished this one off on a promising stretch of games to help push Utah into the playoffs.
But unless the jokes about Jersey sucking the life out of everything are true, this matchup should not be so tilted.
After all, Parker and Harris enjoy similar builds and speed. Physically alike, the two represent very contrasting developmental paths.
Parker stripped his game bare, removing extraneous aspects of his game like a three-point shot or exaggerated dribble moves in favor of a repertoire that accentuated his natural gifts. Devin Harris, who once channeled his quickness so superbly on the defensive end, put time into his three-point shot and appears to have tried to accentuate his speed by simply trying to go faster.
Where Harris is able to channel speed, Parker is able to manipulate it. By changing up his speeds, directions, and angles, Parker is able to keep defensive players off balance.
Speed is a gift, but it’s not the end all be all in basketball. Like a Major League pitcher, even the mediocre hitters will eventually catch up to your 95 mph heat if you don’t vary your approach.
The Jazz, it appears, will opt to double down on what got them here. It would be beneficial for Harris to watch film of those old Mavericks games and do the same.