aaaaand we’re back, this time covering the real, devastating (?) impact of mr Al Harrington, the hot-hand stretch from pretty much every NBA team. Enjoy!
When, as I’m kinda used to now, I look up the new main character for my “real, devastating impact” on basketball-reference.com there are two things my eyes immediately tend to focalize.
One is the nickname attached to said player, often one we rarely get to know (because who in the damn world has ever heard of “Baby Al” for Harrington?! He’s 6’9″ and 34 years old…seriously?); the other is how much time some tweeners have spent in one or another position on the field.
Why am I coming up with all this right here and right now, though?
Fear not: there’s a legit reason. Apparently in his first pro season Harrington has played for the Pacers ALL FIVE spots.
Granted, two of the five (specifically PG and C) have been occupied by him for 1% of his time on the floor, and I can’t really think that someone who now averages 1.7 apg (still better by a mere 0.6 than the 1.1 apg posted by Kendrick “Tragic Brunson” Perkins in his career) can be put at the 1 spot by an NBA coach who is not heavily inebriated. But, hey, he was still a rookie, gotta test your young kids.
Serious time, now: Al Harrington is not going to be Fujian’s point guard anytime soon, but how throughout his career he has been awarded quasi-starter minutes at all three frontcourt spots is an interesting feature not many players can exhibit in their résumé.
In Fujian there’s more than enough room for versatility, a concept I could rephrase as “In Fujian there’s next to nothing, so whatever role you wanna fit in you’ll be the only serious choice, anyway”.
Whatever the spot, he’s going to give you stretch prowess: a career 41% in long 2s combined with a 35,4% 3pt percentage is a good indication, although there has been a dip in both categories in the last two years.
That dip, however, could equally be explained as the result of him getting old or him getting less minutes, the latter case being a circumstance which will not take place in China. He will have more than enough time to find his range, and a green light to fire away whenever needed.
Adding to that, he’ll play alongside the right dude: Wang Zhelin, beside being flat out better than most big men in the league, is a good rebounder and a player who rarely shoots from the outside (0,12 3pt attempts per game last year at a 25% clip, for the records).
Now, of course we need to highlight the not-so-flattering side of this analysis; there’s a dark side to this moon as well. Don’t be fooled, though: this dark side doesn’t really involve Al Harrington himself, but the lack of talent he will face.
Because if we are to look at the stats, Fujian last year was frankly amazing, even without making it to the postseason: 1st in ppg, 1st in field goal % shooting over 50% as a team. If we look up this stat line including just bench players from all teams, Fujian is fourth to last in field goal % and third to last in ppg. And that’s the point: this was a team that had 6 guys play 30+ minutes a night, then two bench guys with 10+ minutes and that’s it. Short, so short a rotation that Harrington will not welcome back for the majority of its key components: West is gone (by the way, Delonte West shot over 50% while shooting less than 30% from deep on almost 4 attempts per game; all this while collecting 5 boards and dishing 5 dimes a night), McDonald is obviously gone, Nikkhah Bahrami is gone. He’ll be joined by Corey Fisher; Wang will come back, Zhou QiXin and Zhao Tailong will come back, Sun Weibo will step in (will he play, though? Hasn’t been on the floor for more than 15 minutes a game for three seasons in a row) and that’s all, folks.
Basically their rotation, which was a key for their great team numbers last year, will be replaced and shortened. That sounds like a no-no, especially in a place where someone as adamantine and talented as Wang Zhelin doesn’t really need to learn how to carry the heavy load: if he ever wants to boast his draft stock he must first show what he can do in a winning system.
Al Harrington (and, for that matter, Corey Fisher as well) will bring the one thing Fujian really missed last year, and that is prowess beyond the arc, but the price to pay is exceptionally high.
Not that this is Al’s fault, though.
My prediction: 22 ppg, <8 rpg, <45% fg.