Mavs From the Past: Devin Harris

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Devin Harris made a name for himself in his career, earning an All-Star appearance and had a lengthy NBA career that lasted almost a decade and a half.

Early Years

Harris attended Wauwatosa East High School where he played basketball and volleyball. He only played volleyball for one season, but in that solo season, he earned all-conference honors.

After his sophomore year, Harris began to get hampered by injuries and couldn’t participate in basketball camps or tournaments over the summer. 

Things took a turn in his senior season when Harris had a break-out year and set school scoring records while leading the team to an undefeated regular season in 2001. He finished his high school basketball career by being named Wisconsin Mr. Basketball.

College Years

Harris stayed in his home state for college, choosing to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

He was named a starter for the Badgers in his freshman season. Harris averaged 12.3 points per game (PPG), 3.3 rebounds per game (RPG), 1.8 assists per game (APG), 1.3 steals per game (SPG), and 0.6 blocks per game (BPG) while starting in all 32 games his first year on the team. Wisconsin went 11-5 in conference games, finished first in the Big Ten conference, and qualified for the NCAA tournament. The Badgers entered March Madness as the No. 8 seed in the East Region. In the first round of the tournament, they took down the No. 9 seed, St. John’s University (NY). In the following round, Wisconsin got eliminated by the No. 1 seed, the University of Maryland. The Badgers finished the season 19-13.

Harris continued to be a starter for Wisconsin in his second season. His numbers improved a bit in his second season, averaging 12.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 3.1 APG, 2.0 SPG, and 0.6 BPG while starting in all 32 games once again. Again, Wisconsin qualified for the NCAA tournament while finishing first in their conference, going 12-4 in conference play. The Badgers entered the tournament as the No. 5 seed in the Midwest Region. In the first round of March Madness, Wisconsin took down the No. 12 seed, Weber State University. In the next round, UW beat the No. 13 seed, the University of Tulsa, in a hard-fought battle that came down to the final shot, winning the game by one point. In the Sweet 16 round, the Badgers lost to the No. 1 seed, the University of Kentucky, ending their March Madness journey. Wisconsin had another winning season, finishing 24-8.

By his third year on the team, Harris established himself as one of the top collegiate basketball players in the nation. He became the team captain of the Badgers and helped lead Wisconsin to another March Madness appearance. While starting in all 32 games for his third straight year, Harris averaged 19.5 PPGe, 4.3 RPG, 4.4 APG, 1.8 SPG, and 0.1 BPG. Wisconsin again went 12-4 in conference games but finished in second this time around. UW did however win the conference tournament and was crowned the Big Ten conference tournament champion. The team then qualified to their third consecutive NCAA tournament. Wisconsin entered the March Madness as the No. 6 seed in the East Rutherford Region, where they took down the No. 11 seed, the University of Richmond, in the first round. UW was then knocked out by the No. 3 seed in their region, the University of Pittsburgh. Harris’ successful junior year brought him a handful of different awards and honors. He was named a consensus second-team All-American, along with being named to the All-Big Ten first-team. Harris was also named the Big Ten tournament MVP and the Big Ten Player of the Year.

After his junior year, Harris declared for the 2004 NBA Draft.

Welcome to the NBA

Harris was drafted 5th overall by the Washington Wizards in the 2004 NBA Draft. A prior trade between the Wizards and Mavericks led to him being traded immediately to Dallas on draft night.

Harris started his rookie season with the Mavericks as a starter but over time was placed to come off the bench. In his first season on the team, he averaged 5.7 PPG, 1.3 RPG, 2.2 APG, and 1.0 SPG while starting in 19 of his 76 games played. Harris was named Rookie of the Month in November 2004. The Mavericks finished the season 58-24 and fourth in the Western Conference. In the first round of the playoffs, they took down the Houston Rockets in seven games. In the following round, however, they were on the losing end of the battle as they got eliminated by the Phoenix Suns in six games. Harris took part in nine of the playoff games, averaging 2.4 PPG, 1.2 RPG, 1.2 APG, and 0.4 BPG in his playoff appearances.

The following season Harris improved his numbers especially when it came to scoring. He was given more ball-handling responsibilities and averaged 9.9 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 3.2 APG, and 0.9 BPG while predominantly still coming off the bench, starting in only four of his 56 games played that season. He missed the end of the regular season due to a leg injury but returned in time for the playoffs. The Mavs clinched the fourth seed again with a 60-22 record. The team swept the Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs. In the second round of the playoffs, the Mavericks took down their rivals, the San Antonio Spurs, a series win in which Harris played a big part. The Mavs then got their revenge on the Suns in the Western Conference Finals, when they beat them in six games. Dallas reached their first NBA Finals in franchise history where they faced off against the Miami Heat. After taking an early 2-0 series lead, the Mavericks lost the next four games to lose the series in six games. Harris started in a majority of the playoff games, 15 of the 23 games. In the playoffs, he put up 9.2 PPG, 1.7 RPG, 2.2 APG, and 0.8 SPG.

Harris finally became the Mavericks’ starting point guard early in the 2006-07 season. He averaged 10.2 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 3.7 APG, and 1.2 SPG for the season, while getting the start in 61 of his 80 games played. Dallas had the best finish to a season in franchise history, going 67-15. Even though the Mavs finished with the best record in the league that year, their regular season success didn’t transfer over to the playoffs as they lost in six games to the Golden State Warriors. The Mavericks ended up on the wrong side of history when they became the first No.1 seed to lose to a No. 8 seed in a seven-game series. Harris started in all six playoff games and put up 13.2 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 5.0 APG, and 1.0 SPG, improving all of his playoff numbers.

Harris started the 2007-08 season as a starter for the Mavericks but he wouldn’t end up finishing the season with them. His numbers continued to improve as he put up 14.4 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 5.3 APG, and 1.4 SPG with the team. Harris made 39 appearances with the team, all as a starter but his time in Dallas came to an end on February 19, 2008.

Harris’ Peak Years

Halfway through the season, Harris was traded to the New Jersey Nets, where he would have the best seasons in his NBA career. He spent three years in New Jersey where he averaged 17.7 PPG, 3.0 RPG, 6.9 APG, and 1.3 SPG while starting in all but six of his 212 games with the team. During the 2008-09 season, Harris scored a career-high 47 points in a game against the Suns. That same season, he was named an All-Star for the first and only time in his career. In Harris’ three years with the Nets they never made a playoff appearance.

The Beginning of his Decline

Halfway through the 2010-11 season, Harris was traded again, this time to the Utah Jazz. He spent a season and a half in Utah where he started in all but one of his 80 games with the team. His numbers began to dip while in Utah, putting up 12.3 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 5.1 APG, and 1.0 SPG in his time there. The Jazz made the playoffs in 2012, but it didn’t take long for them to get eliminated, as they were swiftly swept in the first round by the Spurs.

During the 2012 offseason, he was traded to the Atlanta Hawks. In, Atlanta he split his time being a starter and a role player, starting in 34 of his 58 games with the team. His numbers continued to decline in Atlanta, in his one season with the team he averaged 9.9 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 3.4 APG, and 1.1 SPG. The Hawks made the playoffs but were eliminated in six games by the Indiana Pacers. In the playoffs, Harris put up 11.3 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 3.7 APG, and 1.7 SPG while starting in all six games.

Return to Dallas

Harris returned to the Mavericks in the summer of 2013 via trade. Due to a toe injury that required surgery, he didn’t make his season debut until January 2014. In his second go-around with the Mavs, he became more of a veteran scorer off the bench. In his first season back with the team he averaged 7.9 PPG, 2.1 RPG, 4.5 APG, and 0.7 SPG. He came off the bench in all 40 appearances with the team during the 2013-14 season. The Mavericks finished the season 49-33, enough to clinch the eighth seed. It was a short playoff journey for Dallas as they were eliminated in seven games by the Spurs. Harris put up 11.4 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 3.9 APG, and 0.3 SPG while coming off the bench in all seven playoff games.

Harris was much healthier in the 2014-15 season and became a spark plug off Dallas’ bench. He played in 76 games, while also getting the opportunity to start in three of them. Harris averaged 8.8 PPG, 1.8 RPG, 3.1 APG, and 1.0 SPG for the season. Dallas went 50-32, finishing seventh in the conference. The Mavs were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs again, this time by the Houston Rockets in five games. Harris took part in four of the games but his playoff numbers didn’t live up to his previous playoff stats as they declined to 6.0 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 1.0 APG, and 0.5 SPG.

During the 2015-16 season, Harris suffered another toe injury but it only kept him out a few games. He was able to play in 64 of the team’s games. His numbers stayed consistent with previous years but were still pretty low compared to his prime years, during the season he averaged 7.6 PPG, 2.2 RPG, 1.8 APG, and 0.9 SPG. The Mavericks narrowly finished above .500, going 42-40 and clinching the sixth seed. For the third straight year, the Mavs were eliminated in the first round, this time by the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games. Harris came off the bench in all five games and averaged 7.8 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.6 APG, and 0.6 SPG

Toe problems persisted for Harris at the beginning of the 2016-17 season. He was still able to return three weeks into the season and took part in 65 games. His stats continued to dwindle as he averaged 6.7 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 2.1 APG, and 0.7 SPG. The Mavericks missed out on the playoffs, the first one they missed with Harris on the team, and finished 11th in the conference with a 33-49 record.

Harris started the 2017-18 season with the Mavericks but would be gone from the team by mid-year. He managed to put up 8.5 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 1.9 APG, and 0.8 SPG in his 44 games with the team, one of which was a start. 

Final Years in the NBA

Halfway through the season, Harris was traded to the Nuggets. In his half-season with the team, he put up 8.2 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 2.5 APG, and 0.5 SPG, while coming off the bench in all 27 games. Harris scored his 10,000th career point on March 6, 2018, against the Mavericks. 

In the 2018 offseason, Harris returned to the Dallas Mavericks via free agency. The team with which he began his NBA career was where he spent his final NBA season. Harris averaged 6.3 PPG, 1.6 RPG, 1.8 APG, and 0.5 SPG in his final season while starting in two of his 68 games with the team. The Mavericks missed out on the playoffs as they went 33-49 and finished as the 14th seed in the West. That was Harris’ final season in the NBA as a player.

Harris’ three stints with the Mavericks gave us a chance to watch him evolve as an NBA player.

In his first run with the Mavericks, he was the young kid on the team that found his footing in the league pretty quickly and never looked back. He assisted Nowitzki in leading the Mavs to the NBA Finals at the young age of 22 and showed the league he would be someone other players would have to watch out for. He became a scoring threat early on in his NBA career.

In his second tenure with the Mavericks, he was the wily veteran on the team. Using his basketball IQ and playing experience, he co-captained the team to victories. He also helped mentor some of the younger guys.

In his final run with the Mavs, he gave his final goodbyes to the team and the league. He reminded everyone how he lasted so long in the league and how much of a crucial piece he was to those Mavericks teams of the 2000s and 2010s.

In Harris’ three tenures with the Mavericks, he averaged 8.3 PPG, 2.0 RPG, 2.8 APG, and 0.9 SPG, while mainly being an offensive spark plug off the bench, starting in only 150 of his 662 total games with the team.

Personal Life 

Harris and his wife, Meghan Allen, have three children.

His No. 20 jersey was retired in 2007, by his alma mater, Wauwatosa East High School.

Since retiring from the NBA, Harris joined the Bally Sports Southwest crew as an analyst covering the Mavericks.

In 2009, he set the Guinness World Record for the “fastest man with a basketball” after running the length of the court in 3.93 seconds.

That same year he was awarded the NBA’s Community Assist Award for his charity work with his foundation, 34 Ways to Assist.

Legacy

It didn’t matter what role Harris was given on the team, he always gave his all. He had a wonderful collegiate and NBA career, even becoming a one-time All-Star along the way. His speed, combined with his ability to dominate on offense, made guarding him a mission. He will be remembered by Nets and Mavs fans for the countless contributions he made to the teams during his prime in the 2000s. Mavs fans also remember his later years on the team when even though he wasn’t the same player he was in his prime, he brought new strengths with him as the wily veteran of the team with deep basketball knowledge. Harris will be remembered by Mavs fans for life.



Categories: Mavs Fans For Life, Mavs From the Past

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