Lakers 2013-14 Preseason Player Profiles: Elias Harris

Elias HarrisName: Elias Harris
Pos: SF/PF
Year: Rookie

2012-2013 Stats (at Gonzaga)
PPG: 14.6 RPG: 7.4 APG: 1.6 SPG: 1.2 BPG: 0.6
FG%: 50.1% 3PT%: 17.0% FT%: 76.8%
PER: 27.7 USG%: 26.9% ORTG: 120.5 DRTG: 88.2
TS%: 57.7% EFG%: 51.3% DR%: 21.4% OR%: 9.5% TR%: 15.9%

Last Season Summary:
Harris was a senior leader and very important cog for a Gonzaga team that went 31-2 (16-0) winning the West Coast Conference Regular Season and Tournament Championship and earned a top seed in the NCAA Tournament. They would be upset in the third round by eventual Final Four team, Wichita State.

The 6-foot-8, 239-pound Harris did a little of everything for the Zags as he averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.2 steals.

His season highlights included a 25 point, 10 rebound performance against BYU, a 16 point, 18 rebound performance against South Dakota, a 24 point, 10 rebound performance against San Francisco, and a 21 point, 8 rebound, 2 block, 2 steal, 2 block performance against  Loyola Marymount in the WCC tournament, in which he was named Tournament MVP.

Even though he failed to put up the flashy numbers of teammate, and first-round pick, Kelly Olynyk, Harris proved to be the do-everything player for a Gonzaga team that was one of the best in the nation all season.

Strengths/Weaknesses:
Harris is a tweener in the truest form. At 6-foot-8, 239 pounds he is slightly undersized to play the power forward position full-time, but not quite quick enough to guard NBA small forwards on a regular basis.

Offensively, Harris does his best work in the post. He is able to get great position and has a decent array of moves when down there. At the college level, his physically mature body allowed him to overpower many players. His soft hands down low and long arms for his size also helped him to be a very effective low-post scorer.

Additionally he was a very solid rebounder, pulling in 21.4% of defensive rebounds when on the floor. He is very adept at moving without the ball and his deceptive quickness give him more tools to work with when on the floor.

Where Harris struggles offensively is on the perimeter. He shot only 17 percent from 3-point range last season and, at this level, will need to improve that if he is to be the stretch-4 the team envisions. He must also work on his shot-creating ability away from the post.

Defensively, while he gives consistent effort, he lacks the lateral quickness and foot speed to keep up with perimeter players. His somewhat slender size makes it difficult to envision him guarding the top power forwards of the NBA on a regular basis as well. He will have to prove that he can adequately guard at least one forward position or he will struggle to stay on the floor without being consistently exploited.

Expected Role:
Harris will be counted on to provide minutes at both the small and power forward positions. He will need to provide solid rebounding and athleticism for the Lakers. His ability to play everywhere will serve the Lakers well.

In this age of undersized bigs and positional ambiguity he is a good piece to have around. He will be a good matchup for smaller teams who get up and down the floor and don’t play traditional big men regularly as well as against more perimeter oriented power forwards like Ryan Anderson.

This Year’s Expectations:
Harris impressed the Lakers during the Summer League with his versatility and effort earning the undrafted rookie a multi-year contract. Even with the Lakers looking for young athletic players to fill backup roles it is hard to envision Harris carving out a consistent spot in the rotation this season.

With Pau Gasol, Jordan Hill, and Chris Kaman firmly planted as the first three bigs in the rotation, Harris has an uphill climb to begin. He, Robert Sacre, and Ryan Kelly will be fighting for those 8-12 minutes of backup big man duty in case of foul trouble. Additionally, Harris will have to battle with the likes of Wesley Johnson, Nick Young, Shawne Williams, Xavier Henry, and Marcus Landry for minutes on the wing.

It’s not out of the question to picture Harris making an Earl Clark like impact for the Lakers if he is able to consistently knock down open jumpers while keeping up his impressive rebounding numbers at this level.

More likely however, is that Harris spends ample time with the D-Fenders in order to develop his game and perimeter skills a little more.

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