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- Measurables: 6-foot-8, 200 pounds, freshma forward from St. John’s
- Key Stats: 15.3 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.6 steals, 1.4 blocks per game, 45 percent shooting, 20 percent 3-point shooting
- Projected: Late first round to second round
- Hickory High Similarity Score
Why he is intriguing
Much like last Friday’s prospect, C.J. Leslie, Harkless is a young, raw athlete with tremendous upside. He has first round athleticism and prototypical length for a wing player who could slip to a team like the Pistons in the second round. Plus, he’s working on his magical powers skillset:
If I could switch places for a day with any person (real or fictional) I’d be: Harry Potter so I could cast spells.
Pros for the Pistons
As I mentioned with Leslie and Darius Miller, Harkless would give the Pistons much needed speed and athleticism on the perimeter. Harkless’ athleticism is certainly noticeable, but he also rebounds well for a small forward, blocks shots and gets in passing lanes. The defense is his selling point for the Pistons. Although Tayshaun Prince remains a capable defender, his potential replacements, Austin Daye (lacking strength and aggression) and Kyle Singler (lacking lateral quickness; also, lacking actually being on the roster), don’t seem to have the makeup to or skillset to become lockdown perimeter defenders. Harkless won’t be there off the bat, but he exceeded expectations as a freshman at St. John’s, works hard and plays with toughness. Those things, along with his physical tools, would make him an intriguing prospect if he’s on the board when the Pistons pick.
Cons for the Pistons
Like Daye, Harkless is a bit on the scrawny side. Unlike Daye, though, he’s coming into the league at a bit younger age than Daye was, so there’s a better chance that his frame will fill out some. For his part, Harkless isn’t too worried about it:
Several comments were made during the season that the 208-pound Harkless might have trouble in the NBA because he is so slight.
“They said the same thing about me playing in the Big East,” he said with a smile.
Harkless’ offensive game also lacks refinement. He can put the ball on the floor some, but he’s not a good perimeter shooter yet and he’s not a good free throw shooter.
What others are saying
Harkless has entered the draft. He may not have been pegged as a one-and-done prospect coming out of high school, but he was among the most productive freshmen in college basketball this year. His energy level and athleticism should translate to the pros immediately. He needs a better jumper, but he’s likely a mid-to-late first-round pick.
In terms of shot creation with the ball, Harkless shows a somewhat comfortable handle, though he seems to lack confidence and doesn’t really show the ability to take advantage of his athleticism with the ball just yet. He occasionally will pull off an aggressive move going to the hole when in isolation, but struggles when not in space.
He’s a great young talent who probably would have benefited from another year at St. Johns… Still, he has tremendous upside and could be a big-time contributor down the road … Don’t be surprised if he slips into the lottery with some strong individual workouts.
Aggressive forward who understands team defense at a young age, has great size and athleticism, and is an active rebounder. Harkless is still a raw player who needs work on his jumper, adding strength and fine tuning his ball handling, but has the youth and upside to warrant a late first round pick in 2012.Best Case Scenario: Matt Barnes meets Trevor Ariza
Worst Case Scenario: Dominic McGuire
What is the best thing Moe Harkless does for his team?
Moe Harkless is a high-level athlete who’s just scratching at his potential and learning to be in constant attack mode. The speed and quickness for his size (6’8”) is evident. Harkless is smooth in transition, quick to the rim given an open lane, can get above the rim for a finish without ceremony or wind-up, and his shot-blocking and steal rates were solid. He’s mostly a face-up player; his ability to score off of the dribble is inconsistent – as is his ability to convert through traffic. During the year, he improved his accuracy on jumpers within the arc, tightened his handle on drives, and held up to the league’s pounding as the most indispensable member of the Red Storm despite being undersized for Big East post play. For those who love potential, there is a lot of room for Harkless to become more efficient; he already has the combination of height, speed, and agility that can’t be taught.
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