Toronto Raptors: Jalen Harris needs support, not scorn, from Raptors fans

May 14, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Jalen Harris (2) Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports
May 14, 2021; Dallas, Texas, USA; Toronto Raptors guard Jalen Harris (2) Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports /

In the second half of the unlucky 2020-21 Toronto Raptors season, second-round pick Jalen Harris started to show signs that he could be an integral member of the rotation next season. His 7.4 points per game belie his play at the end of the season, in which he averaged 18.5 points per game in his final four games.

Harris, who was picked 59th overall in the 2020 NBA Draft out of Nevada, has seen whatever chances he had at establishing himself in the rotation completely sandblasted away.

Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting that Harris has been banned from the NBA for one year due to a violation of the league’s drug policy. Harris joins a small list of players but with a ban like this under the NBA’s guidelines, including former lottery picks OJ Mayo and Tyreke Evans.

Due to this ban, Harris’ contract has been nullified, per Blake Murphy of the Athletic, although the Raptors will retain his rights should Harris get reinstated. Purely at face value, it looks like Harris’ time with the Raptors has come to a disappointing early end.

However, Harris’ ban should not bring with it an avalanche of negativity or snide remarks made at his expense. Rather, Raptors fans need to hope for Harris getting the structure, support, and help he needs.

Toronto Raptors fans must hope Jalen Harris turns it around.

This kind of punishment is not handed down for marijuana, meaning that what he tested positive for could have a more destructive effect on him. The list of drugs that can get a player banned includes a number of dangerous painkillers and narcotics. 

Feeling a degree of disappointment isn’t outrageous, as it will be tough for a 59th overall pick with just a handful of games under his belt to work his way back into the NBA after a suspension like this, but letting that disappoint override empathy and sympathy isn’t the way to go.

The league’s current CBA claims that he must show “good character and morality” in addition to the completion of a rehabilitation program. There is a path back to the NBA, but it’s on Harris and whatever support system he has to stay locked in and work on achieving this goal.

Basketball is secondary right now, even with all of those questions about his ability that he will need to prove he has answered. Harris, and those close to him, need to make sure this situation will never happen again. If that happens, he should be able to kick-start his NBA career once again.

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