When the Hawks dealt Marvin Williams, finally, to Utah, fans probably didn't expect much in return. The shock of getting a known commodity in Devin Harris, a player that has been on the cusp of Hawk Hater throughout his career (usually do to the slaying of Mike Bibby), reaction bordered on euphoric.
Then, reality set in. 'Wait, why is Utah so willing to deal Harris on an ending contract when Marvin is likely to go the distance and play out his two years left on his?"
What was wrong with Harris that made him so available? Did he lose a limb? Was he a jerk? Did he have a Boris Diaw-Peja Drobnjak stench that couldn't be eradicated throughout the city grids of Salt Lake City?
We couldn't get answers to all those questions, but @AllThatAmar from SBN's Jazz blog, SLCDunk, stopped by to answer the ones I did actually ask (still kicking myself about not asking the stink question).
1. On a scale from 1 to 10 from one being Yinka Dare to 10 being John Stockton, how true a point guard is Devin Harris?
7.5. I mean it.
Coming into the league Devin Harris was called a 'shoot first' point guard. And one could not really argue that over his first few seasons: either as an off-the-bench dynamo for the Mavericks; or as the starter for the Nets. One thing that is under reported is the fact that in Utah Devin Harris has gone out of his way to sublimate his primacy in the offense to be a pass-first guard. He deffers on offense to what play is being called, he has slowed down his game so that he's not way ahead of his team mates. Being anchored to the limited Al Jefferson will do that. Instead of chaffing at this pairing and playing 'his style' he played the Jazz style. While it did him no favors statistically, I think he did learn quite a bit about the normative duties of a point guard. Over the course of his nearly one and a half seasons here (thanks lockout!) he has improved in his half court control and ability to see his team mates as more than just guys to set screens for him. Harris can still put the pedal to the metal and play an up and down game (where he is still best), but he's a much more rounded PG now than he ever was. It did not work out for the Jazz, but I think it was a necessary step in Devin's development. This isn't just in terms of how a true PG passes the ball, but also how a true PG picks his spots for when to shoot the ball. I was very impressed and encouraged by Harris' improved spot up shooting (especially from down town). If he did not get hot down the stretch as a spot up shooter the Jazz do not make the playoffs. Harris is still a Top 10 PG.
2. What is the biggest groan-point he provides on a nightly basis? (Biggest, most irritating weakness)
For the casual Jazz fan it would be his penchant of missing free throws. As a team the Jazz were horrible last season, so it's not just something we can single Harris out for. For me the biggest nightly weakness was that he differed TOO much to the Jazz offense / feeding the bigs. I wished he ran in transition / picked up the pace a bit more. He was too selfless in this regard. I'd love to see him run more with the Hawks, but it's not like you guys run consistently either (Last time Hawks were Top 15 in pace was 2004-05).
3. He always would kill Mike Bibby going to the basket -- does he still attack and penetrate offensively?
When he attacks the basket he is still super valuable. He gets to the line and scores in the paint. He's done this all his career, and he did so for the Jazz too -- just at a slower rate. With how the Hawks seem to favor isolations and pick and rolls it should open up the court for him again. With the Jazz it was always hard for him to do this because we always had one or more of the following dudes near the basket: Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, or Jeremy Evans. With the Jazz offense he has learned how to move better without the ball too. I'm encouraged to see him paired up with a willing post passer like Horford. It may result in some really easy buckets for Atlanta.
4. Is he a liability on defense?
Yes, but in this version of the NBA who can really stop dribble penetration? No one.
5. Did he ever play alongside another point guard there?
Officially no, but with the nature of the Dick Motta remixed offense that the Jazz run, the wings do initiate a lot of the sets -- making the PG an off the ball threat. He received a lot of pass off of screens, or off of cuts from either big men at high post or wings on the sideline. He was surprisingly effective off the ball as well.
6. Best suited as a starter or off the bench?
At this stage in his career I think he's now a team first guy, but he won't say it so I will - Harris should start. That said, the Devin-Lou lineup is going to cause so many people fits this year. I completely expect another few losses against the Hawks this season because of it.
Thanks to Amar for answering, and I would bet if our most intelligent (at least, more intelligent than I) commentor community had other questions to ask of our SLC brethren, we could get those answered as well as a Part Deux, so fire away in the Comments area!