Toronto Raptors: Jalen Harris can use next games to prove long-term value

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MAY 01: Trent Forrest #3 of the Utah Jazz drives past Jalen Harris #2 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images)
SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH - MAY 01: Trent Forrest #3 of the Utah Jazz drives past Jalen Harris #2 of the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors have seen Malachi Flynn blossom from a complete offensive liability into an Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month, but they still don’t know what they have in guard Jalen Harris. Due to injury and his time in the G League, Harris has averaged just 5.6 minutes per game in eight games with the big club this season.

Harris, picked with the second-to-last pick of the 2020 NBA Draft out of Nevada, looked like another quality perimeter scorer after leading the Wolfpack last season. After barely getting any time on the court in the early parts of the season, Harris has started to show the Raptors his worth over the last few games.

During a loss against the Los Angeles Clippers, Harris tallied a career-high 11 points, making all of his shots from the field in a display that had to get Nick Nurse’s attention. Tonight’s game against the Washington Wizards has the chance to serve a Harris’ springboard from which he starts to assert himself.

Barring a miracle that rivals anything we’ve seen in the NBA over the last few years, the Raptors will be watching the postseason from home this season. These next few games should be used as an exhibition for Harris, as Nurse can finally get an accurate picture of his ability to contribute next season.

Will Jalen Harris be a member of the Toronto Raptors next year?

Harris could always shoot the lights out, but he came into the league with some questions, especially on the defensive end of things. Harris was worked by guys who will be selling insurance during his college days, and he will likely never lock down great offensive players at the NBA level.

The Raptors need to hope Harris develops a secondary trait other than shooting. It could be passing, hustle, interior finishing, or anything else. Being a spot-up shooter won’t help him stick, but he could use the next few games to show off his improvement.

One issue that both Flynn and Harris have working against them, thanks to Masai Ujiri’s preference for experienced college players instead of promising youngsters. This puts more pressure on them to succeed right away. Harris needs to develop his second skill quickly, as a 23-year-old guard without much beyond a jumper doesn’t sound like a roster lock.

Harris was looking more like Dewan Hernandez than Norman Powell early in his career, but he has a chance to put that sluggish start in the past and assert himself as someone that Nurse has to give minutes to next year. He might be leaning on a small sample size, but showing off his scoring touch and high motor could be a ticket to playing time with the Toronto Raptors.

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