Derek Harper was selected by the Dallas Mavericks 11th overall in the 1983 NBA Draft. He played in every game in his first two seasons but only started in one game in each of his first two seasons. In his rookie season Harper averaged 5.7 points per game (PPG), 2.1 rebounds per game (RPG), 2.9 assists per game (APG), and 1.2 steals per game (SPG). By his fourth season he was a full-time starter, he was part of the starting backcourt with Rolando Blackman for the rest of the decade.
Harper’s best scoring season was the 1990-1991 season with the Mavericks. Harper averaged a career-high 19.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 7.1 APG, and 1.9 SPG. That was in the middle of his peak years. From the 1986-1987 season to the 1992-1993 season Harper averaged 17.7 PPG, 2.7 RPG, 7.0 APG, and 1.9 SPG. He made the NBA All-Defensive Second Team twice, 1987 and 1990. Harper however didn’t have the honor to ever become an All-Star during his career. During his first stint with the Mavericks they were able to make the Western Conference Finals in 1988, but fell in seven games to the eventual champions, the Los Angeles Lakers.
28 games into the 1993-1994 season, Harper was traded to the New York Knicks where he reunited with Blackman. His time on the Knicks was short lived as he spent a season and a half with them but then got released in the 1996 off-season. Two weeks later he signed as a free agent with the Dallas Mavericks. His second stint with the Mavericks lasted one season until he was traded to the Orlando Magic during the 1997 off-season. He finished his career with the Lakers after signing with them mid-way through the 1998-1999 season.
As part of the Dallas Mavericks, he played the third most games in franchise history, 872. Harper is fourth all-time in points scored in Mavericks franchise history with 12,597 points. Harper is also the franchise leader in assists and steals with 5,111 assists and 1,551 steals. On January 7, 2018 Harper’s hard work paid off when the Dallas Mavericks retired his #12 jersey and raised into the rafters of the American Airlines Center.
Harper still lives in the Dallas area with his family. After retiring, Harper became a weekend sports anchor for KTXA in the Dallas-Fort Worth area until they ended it. Harper also found his way back to being part of the Dallas Mavericks organization, where he is currently the team’s TV analyst.
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