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NBA Draft Kentucky Prospect Preview: Andrew Harrison

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Andrew Harrison is one of the more confounding and polarizing middle-tier 2015 NBA Draft prospects. Let's take a look at the strengths, weaknesses, and the big picture.

Andrew Harrison is likely to be selected somewhere between picks 31 and 45.
Andrew Harrison is likely to be selected somewhere between picks 31 and 45.
Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Overview

Andrew Harrison was projected as a consensus future lottery pick before ever crossing Kentucky's border as a Class of 2013 signee; however, the last two years have proven that the student-athlete experience was not kind to Harrison's NBA Draft stock.

Still, while detractors like to harp on ultimately extraneous items such as Harrison's occasionally questionable body language (which appears to have trailed off), off-color comments after the recent Final Four loss to Wisconsin, and (inexplicably) his inability to thrive without his brother, Harrison possesses a variety of above-average skills and talents as a guard, as well as a lot of intangibles that actually factor into whether he will succeed at the NBA level.

Notable '14-'15 Statistics

25.5 mpg, 9.3 ppg, 3.6 apg, 2.2 rpg, 38% FG, 38% 3FG, 79% FT, 1.6 topg

Draft Combine Measurables

213.2 pounds; 6' 4.5'' height without shoes; 6' 5.5'' height with shoes; 8'4'' standing reach; 6'9'' wingspan; 5.9% body fat; 8.25 inches hand length; 9.25 inches hand width

'14-'15 Advanced Stats of Note

PER: 18.3

Assists per 40 minutes: 8.8 VS. Turnovers per 40 minutes: 4

Free throws attempted per 40 minutes: 6.5

Current Draft Projections

DX: 42 to Utah / Chad Ford: 53 to Cleveland / NBA.com: 46 to Milwaukee / Yahoo! Sports: 42 to Utah / NBADraft.net: 53 to Cleveland

Strengths


Though estimations differ significantly on Harrison as a basketball player, everyone can agree that he has optimal size, strength, and length for a NBA PG. Most of his strong points flow from this triumvirate of corporeal characteristics.


His height allows for great court vision, unquestionably a requisite trait for a PG in today's NBA. Obviously, these physical attributes bestow above-average rebounding abilities for a guard upon Harrison. A talented rebounding guard will also excel in transition, which he certainly does. Along these lines, he has repeatedly garnered praise for his basketball instincts and IQ.


Also, due to his size, he has the ability to play SG if needed. His defense is first-rate, generally, which would make up for his lack of shooting prowess at the SG position.


Harrison is great when he has help on offense, especially screens. Though he is not in the top tier of PGs in this Draft, it is my opinion that only Emmanuel Mudiay and Tyus Jones are better than him as instinctive pick-and-roll PGs.


Though shooting is not his strong suit, he has shown an ability to score the ball from the perimeter when he tries. He shot 38% from three-point range last season, which will not get him drafted as a three-point specialist, but will require NBA defenders to respect his perimeter shot.


Getting to the foul line has proven to be one of his greatest strengths. As mentioned above, he takes 6.5 free throws every forty minutes. That is an impressive number. He also makes 79% of his free throws, which isn't exactly optimal, but puts him in the same conversation as NBA PGs (and former ‘Cats) Eric Bledsoe (80%) and John Wall (77%).


Finally, people forget that Harrison was the starting PG for teams that went a combined 67-12 over the past two seasons. A team with that type of elite record needs contributions from every position, and he certainly had a significant effect on both UK teams he piloted. That type of experience can only be considered a strength. He also improved in many areas, from both the "eye test" and statistical perspectives, from his freshman to sophomore season, which demonstrates that he can still improve on deficiencies listed below.


Weaknesses

The aforementioned "character"-related issues aside, which I believe can be chalked up to immaturity (he is 20; it can be fixed) and hyper-competitiveness (which can be harnessed), Harrison's greatest weakness is his inconsistency, especially on offense.  His college game log, on the offensive side, has alternating entries of exceptional games followed by absolute disappearances. Or this and this.  In part, this inconsistency is due to being unable to create his own offense. A number of observers and scouts have noted that he is just not a great shooter, either.


Another worry that he partially addressed during the '14-'15 season is his recklessness with the ball, especially when penetrating or testing a more intricate defensive set. Although his turnover numbers improved from 13'-'14 to '14-'15, they are still a concern.


While he is a superb pick-and-roll PG, he does struggle to create his own offense. When on his own, he often seems to struggle when deciding whether to shoot off the dribble, drive, or pass the ball off to a teammate.


Finally, though his physical attributes and their implications are primarily what make him a solid second-round prospect, he often relied too much on his remarkable size and strength when trying to drive and then finish at the rim in college. He will be unable to do this in the NBA and be successful. He also isn't the fastest or most explosive guard, so that will also affect his ability to be effective as a penetrator in the NBA.

Projections

Harrison excelled at the NBA Draft Combine scrimmages, though it should be noted that a number of top-tier prospects declined to participate.  According to Jonathan Givony over at DX, "Harrison played as well as any point guard at the NBA Combine on Thursday, as he controlled tempo, played with excellent pace, changed speeds consistently in the half court and made a few nifty passes while finishing through contact consistently." In a pair of games, Harrison averaged 11.5 points, 6 assists and 2 blocks per game.

The projections above considered, Andrew should be selected between the very top and middle of the second round.  Many of the second round PG prospects are the "upside"-types (Olivier Hanlan from BC, Tyler Harvey from Eastern Washington, for example), whereas teams should know what they are getting immediately from Harrison.  He's a safer pick and possesses great value anywhere from 31-55

Andrew projects as a NBA PG who can handle SG duties when needed, mostly because of his size and defense.  He will certainly land on a team looking for depth at guard and start his career coming off the bench; however, his positional versatility might provide for spot starts early in his career.

With all of the negativity that surrounded Andrew in Lexington, I'd like to focus on the positive.  Check out this 2015 highlight video.  

And, even know we all know how I feel about pre-Draft workouts, they are fun to watch.