Devin Harris (born February 27, 1983 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) was obtained by the Dallas Mavericks, along with Jerry Stackhouse and Christian Laettner immediately after the 2004 draft in exchange for Antawn Jamison and cash considerations. He signed with Dallas on July 2, 2004.
Harris grew up in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin, a suburb of Milwaukee, the son of Terry and Julie Harris. Throughout high school, Harris was a superior athlete and took up basketball and volleyball at Wauwatosa East High School. He only played volleyball for one season, a season in which he gained all-conference honors, before he set that aside to focus on basketball. Harris was nagged by injuries after his sophomore year of high school and was unable to participate in the summer basketball camps and tournaments that are ever important in the recruiting process.
Thus, Harris flew somewhat under the radar. He exploded his senior season at Wauwatosa East, setting school scoring records through an undefeated regular season. Harris was named Wisconsin's "Mr. Basketball" for 2001, edging out Travis Diener of Fond Du Lac. Harris finally accepted an offer to play for Dick Bennett at the University of Wisconsin. Bennett retired in the midst of the upcoming season and by the time Harris arrived on campus, Bo Ryan was the head coach.
In Harris' freshman season, the 2001-2002 season, he was already a starter on a relatively unheralded team. The Badgers came into the season being predicted to finish as low as ninth in the Big Ten Conference. On a team lead by seniors Charlie Wills and Travon Davis, the Badgers won an unexpected Big Ten Championship (shared with three other teams: Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan State).
Harris' sophomore season was his "breakout" year. Harris, along with senior Kirk Penney and fellow sophomore Mike Wilkinson, led the Badgers to their second consecutive Big Ten Championship. In the NCAA Tournament, the Badgers reached the "Sweet 16". In the "Sweet 16" game against Kentucky, Harris showed a national audience his skill although the team lost.
The 2003-2004 season had Harris establishing himself as one of the top players in the nation. He was the leader on the team and was considered a "coach on the floor" by Bo Ryan. He received Big Ten Player of the Year, the Silver Basketball award, and was named a Second Team All-American. Harris decided to leave college early after his junior year to play in the NBA.
He was also honored as Big 10 player of the year his junior year.
Days prior to the draft, the Washington Wizards and Dallas Mavericks consummated a deal that involved the Wizards' 5th overall pick going to the Mavs along with Jerry Stackhouse and Christian Laettner in exchange for Antawn Jamison. NBA rules prevented teams from trading draft picks for two consecutive years (in addition to a trade kicker details in Laettner's contract so the deal was momentarily delayed until the actual draft in which Washington selected Devin Harris and subsequently traded him to the Mavericks to complete the deal. The Mavs' plan was to bring Harris along slowly under the tutelage of all-star point guard Steve Nash but Nash ended up leaving the team through free agency and signing with the Phoenix Suns.
In Harris' rookie season, he averaged 5.7 ppg and 2.2 apg, a respectable showing (especially for a rookie). Also, he ranked 2nd in the NBA in steals per 48 minutes at 3.15 (behind Larry Hughes), and in November 2004 was named the got milk? Rookie of the Month. Although he started for much of the early portion of the season, his playing time dwindled as the season progressed. This could be due in part to the Mavericks' coaching change from Don Nelson to Avery Johnson in March, but also because of Harris' need to add strength to compete more efficiently at the NBA level, particularly on the defensive end.
Harris showed marked improvement in the early stages of the 2005-2006 NBA season, especially when it came to scoring; as a result, his minutes increased and took more ball handling responsibilities from Jason Terry. He ended the year with averages of 9.9 ppg and 3.2 apg. He improved his jumpshot and his ability to split defenses and get to the rim. Unfortunately, he sustained a leg injury midway through the year and missed most of the rest of the regular season. Harris returned for the 2006 NBA Playoffs and played a huge role in toppling the Mavericks' long time rivals the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs had dominated the Mavs in recent playoff history, ending their playoff runs in 6 games in the 2003 NBA Playoffs and 5 games in the 2001 NBA Playoffs. In Dallas' 7- game series against the Spurs, Harris averaged 12.8 points, including a streak of 20, 24 and 18 points in three Mavs wins that wrested control of the series away from the Spurs. NBA pundits often credit Harris' ability to capitalize on the Spurs' decision to focus its defense on Dallas' big three of Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Josh Howard, as the reason why Dallas was finally able to defeat the Spurs.
In 2006-2007, Harris saw action in 80 games averaging 10.2 points and 3.7 assists while helping Dallas to a team record 67 wins. The next season, after only 39 games, Dallas traded the 6'3 guard along with Keith Van Horn, Trenton Hassell, Maurice Ager, DeSagana Diop, $3,000,000 cash and two first round draft choices (2008 and 2010), to New Jersey in return for Jason Kidd, Malik Allen and Antoine Wright. He rapidly became a fan favorite in with the Nets over the 25 games of that season .
The next year saw Harris record a career-high 21.3 ppg average earn a spot on the NBA's Eastern Conference All-Star team. That same season he also had a career-best 6.9 assist average.
Shoulder and ankle injuries limited Harris to 64 games in the '09-'10 season but, after being named team captain, he still managed to average 16.9 points and 6.6 assists.
Always active in the community, Harris was honored with the NBA's 2009 Community Assist Award for his work with his charitable foundation "34 Ways To Assist." |