The Toronto Raptors were rightfully heralded for being able to snag a first-round talent in Christian Koloko with the No. 33 overall pick, but their excellence in the 2022 NBA Draft didn’t stop there. Masai Ujiri signed one of the most stunning undrafted free agents in Rutgers leader Ron Harper Jr. to a two-way contract.
While Harper clocked in at around 245 pounds in his college career, his style of play is that of a versatile guard comfortable with the ball in his hands and rising from 3-point range. With long arms and the potential to evolve into a solid defender, Harper fits the mold Ujiri often looks for.
Harper’s best trait is his ability to use his size to create offensive mismatches. A terrific shooter who came into his own last year, Harper was the no-doubt go-to scorer for a Scarlet Knights team that pulled off some huge upsets. With 109 collegiate starts, Harper has tons of experience.
Considering that recent two-year signee Justin Champagnie went from a much-heralded two-way player to someone who nearly broke into the rotation full-time last year, some optimistic Raptors fans expect more of the same from Harper. How long will it take before he contributes to the NBA squad?
Toronto Raptors season preview: How will Ron Harper Jr. play?
Stats: 15.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, 1.0 SPG, 44% FG, 40% 3PT
If that name sounds familiar to NBA fans of a certain age, it’s because Harper’s father, Ron Sr., made his name as one of the greatest players in Cleveland Cavaliers history before becoming a vital backcourt piece alongside Michael Jordan on the Bulls. Harper has quite the legacy to live up to.
Harper earned some mixed reviews in Summer League play. While he didn’t light up the scoreboard in the same way that he did at the collegiate ranks, his ability to fill multiple offensive roles and constant motor was put on exhibition. Harper will have tons of eyes on him in the preseason.
Harper profiles as someone who should have no problems becoming a solid shooter at the professional level. With the ability to handle the ball and a passing ability that is much better than the box score would indicate, Harper is a unique Swiss Army knife for the Raptors to fool around with.
The idea of eventually molding him into a bench gunner with switchability is appealing to Nick Nurse.
Harper was identified by scouts as someone with defensive potential. Still, a lack of tremendous athletic ability may make it challenging for him to realize that potential in the near future. Harper is coming off a bad showing at the NBA combine, raising more questions about how long it will take before he can stop professional players.
Harper should be the focal point of the 905 offense whenever he’s down in Mississauga. His offensive game is too varied and refined for him to take a backseat. There’s a chance that he makes a few Champagnie-esque cameos in the Raptors’ lineup this season, provided he slims down a tad and works on his defensive skills.