Meet Gary Harris.
He’s 19. He was a wide receiver in high school. He was a shooting guard at Michigan State. He’s listed at 6-foot-4 but looks more like 6-2/6-3-ish. He’s a supreme athlete but isn’t particularly skilled with the ball, not for a future NBA guard who is 6-2/6-ish. When Harris was a 10th grader, I watched him in a high school team camp in the Midwest. He had facial hair and a smooth jumper back then, too, and he looked like a kid who some day would become an NBA guy.
And on June 26, Harris will be selected somewhere in the middle of the first round of the NBA draft. He will be an NBA guy.
The Nuggets have the No. 11 pick, and that’s too high to take Harris. But if they were to trade down from No. 11, they would take a long, hard look at drafting him.
But that’s not because they hosted him for a predraft workout.
“Honestly, you don’t learn a lot from these (workouts),” Nuggets general manager Tim Connelly told me today. “If they don’t shoot well, they don’t look very good.”
That’s why the Nuggets scouting department, led by Connelly, spent a significant percentage of the past basketball season on the road. They watched Harris and Indiana’s Noah Vonleh in the Big Ten. They watched Aaron Gordon, Zach LaVine and Kyle Anderson in Pac-12 games. They watched Julius Randle and James Young at a Kentucky practice, Joel Embiid and Andrew Wiggins at a Kansas practice.
Anyone that could be available at No. 11 (or higher, or lower), they watched, in person.
For a scouting junkie, there’s one positive about the Nuggets falling from the playoffs and into the draft lottery:
Good players will come through town for predraft workouts. And I like watching good players in workouts.
But the workouts themselves?
Joel Embiid, the center from Kansas, put on a stunning display during a recent workout in Los Angeles. That’s one reason I expect Embiid will be the No. 1 pick to the Cavaliers.
But the Nuggets won’t base their draft decision on these workouts. They’ve seen all these guys enough.
So while the Nuggets met Gary Harris today, they already knew what he can and can’t do.