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NBA, The NBA's 30 Best Go-To Players / Sep 24, 2009 / 10:15 am

The NBA’s 30 best go-to players (#23: Devin Harris)

Devin Harris

Devin Harris

Every NBA team has a go-to guy, and there’s really only room for one. And it’s not strictly who takes the last-second shot. It’s the guy who regularly gets the ball when things are getting tense in the fourth; the guy expected to calm things down when teammates are getting sloppy; the guy called upon to snuff out an opponent’s rally, or spark a rally of his own; the guy who’s not just supposed to make shots, but make the right decisions.

Bottom line: Who do you want the offense to run through when everything is on the line? From #30 to #1, these are the League’s best go-to guys…

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#23: DEVIN HARRIS, New Jersey

In the tradition of many successful NFL quarterbacks, champion boxing prospects and NBA point guards, it’s all coming around in nicely-paced single steps for Devin Harris.

Four seasons after he was a Top-5 Lottery pick, Harris became a full-time starter. In Year 5, his first full stint in New Jersey, he had his breakout as an All-Star and one of the League’s top point guards. Now going into his sixth campaign, Devin gets his first crack at being a team’s go-to guy.

Last season, Devin averaged 21.3 points (14th in the League), 6.9 assists and 1.6 steals, all career-highs. But when it came to the Nets needing to identify somebody as their rock, that job still fell to Vince Carter. But with Vince now in Orlando, this is Devin’s team, and the 26-year-old appears ready for the spotlight.

Harris had his standout crunch-time moments last season. He hit a game-winner against Sacramento and another against Indiana on plays designed for him to clear-out and get whatever shot he could. He had games where he dominated from start to finish, most notably when he ripped Phoenix for 47 points, Dallas for 41 and 13 dimes, and Chicago for 42 points. And while Devin’s most memorable play — a halfcourt desperation game-winner against Philly — was more luck and circumstance than anything, it was still the kind of shot that allows teammates to have unwavering trust that their go-to guy can make something happen when they need a miracle.

Harris is explosive off the dribble, which sets up his mid-range pull-up jumper when he gets his defender cheating backwards. He gets to the line better than most players in the League — his 8.8 free throw attempts per game were fifth in the NBA — and when he passes the ball, has a dependable interior scorer in Brook Lopez on his side. According to 82games.com, Harris scored 34 points per 48 minutes of “clutch time,” better than Danny Granger, Manu Ginobili and Deron Williams (and slightly below Vince Carter). And his 6.2 assists per 48 of clutch time was equal to Brandon Roy and better than Derrick Rose and Kobe Bryant.

What Devin can’t do is make threes. He hit 29 percent beyond the arc last season, and for his career is a 31 percent shooter. And while he ranked ninth in the NBA in fourth-quarter scoring (6.1 ppg), his 40% shooting from the field in the fourth was the lowest among the Top-15.

Other than that, Devin’s biggest liability as a go-to guys is simply that he hasn’t really done it before as a pro. Even when he was the one enlisted by Lawrence Frank to win games last season, defenses were still primarily concerned with Vince. No longer part of that dual-threat backcourt, we’ll see how Devin handles his latest promotion.

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24. Kevin Martin
25. Al Jefferson
26. O.J. Mayo
27. Stephen Jackson
28. Nate Robinson
29. Boris Diaw
30. Rip Hamilton

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  • Boofrog

    First.

    Devin Harris.

    AKA Milwaukee’s Best

  • Boofrog

    First.

    Devin Harris is the man.

    AKA Milwaukee’s Best.

  • SagJism

    Too bad you know they will make Bron #1 which is BS

  • TJ

    I think Harris is a better go-to player than Derrick Rose.

  • Abe504

    great scorer, definitely always pick him up in my fantasy ball league

  • haya

    lbj wont be #1. believe me

  • Shrink This

    @3

    I don’t know, number 1 might be Kobe

  • Big Bad Wolf

    @4 harris is better than d-rose? true that!

    @3 ‘Bron would be number 2, ‘coz even if i got love for ‘bron i’ll hand the rock to Mamba…

    If Carmelo ain’t part of the top 5, then this list is f*cked up!!!!

    1) Kobe Bryant
    2) LeBron James
    3) Dwyane Wade
    4) Carmelo Anthony
    5) Chris Paul

    Those are the ones you want handlin’ the ball to win games for you…

  • http://www.btv.com.ph/ sh!tfaced

    I’m gonna call Danny Granger at 23….?

  • Celts Fan

    Here’s the top few:

    1. Kobe
    2. Wade (while I’d take Bron over Wade if starting a team from scratch, if there’s 10 seconds left in the game, I’d MUCH rather have Wade with the ball. He’s proven time and time again that he can and will make the big shot in these situations. Short of that 3 ball in the Orl. series, Bron’s only game winners have come on drives. I’ll take Wade.)
    3. Bron
    4. Pierce (say what you will about him, this isn’t a homer pick to me; the guy is lights out in the 4th. Just look at who was taking and making the big shots through our entire title run. Ray contributed a lot, but clearly, our go-to-guy is The Truth.)
    5. Roy
    6. Durant (you know he’s making THE LEAP to superduperstar this year and not looking back for a decade plus…)

    Honorable mentions:

    Agent Zero – he’s in the top 5 if he’s still the same guy he was 2 years ago, but you gotta see it first.

    Manu – see Agent Zero. Duncan’s clutch and still the best player on that team, but if you need a guy to give you everything (as in jumpers, 3 balls, and drives, not just post ups or bank shots, Manu’s the guy.)

    by the way, if Dirk is top 10, this list is a joke.

  • Flip

    @ Celts Fan:

    If Dirk isn’t Top 5, this list is a joke! There isn’t a single player besides Lebron that IS his team like Dirk is. The Mavs entire offence revolves around him and he is their go to scorer early and late in the game. Have ever seen dude play? What an outrageous claim you just made….

  • don cannon

    this is bullshit…he should be higher and who you gone have over him from the bulls? cause the same liabilties devin has are the same d.rose had but devin has made clutch shots while weve yet to see d.rose make any it was mostly ben with the ball during key situations…and dont view this as d.rose hatin hes an amazing player but hes not higher than devin harris

  • Chaos

    For Devin to be a REAL go to player this year instead of a go to scorer, he is gonna have to demand the rock in his hand and facilitate points by dropping dimes to his teammates. he isnt going to suprise anyone his year and everyone knows what he is capable of so he is gonna have to find open shooters, cutters and teammates on the low post so they dont have to focus on stopping him from just scoring but creating points. by knowing that he can find the open ma, they have to go one on one with him where he can eat up his man or make them pay when help comes off another player. with Yi, Lee, williams and lopex around him, they can be a scrappy and scare some teams tha are sleeping

  • David@Play

    Paul Pierce! Can anyone argue that when Boston needs a basket, that they will always go to Paul .. Always! even before Garnett

  • Big Bad Wolf

    @celts fan

    Paul Pierce is just hogging the ball, if it really is go-to guy then i’d go with KG or Ray Allen to win games. he couldn’t even carry his team by himself… :) so go-to guy? hell no… “the truth” will set you free… :)

  • dial up

    If bron is in front of wade and kobe it makes no sense. Wade got better stats with a much worse team. Lebron choked with a stacked team.

  • johnsacrimoni

    @post8 Brandon Roy and Deron Williams are both way more clutch than Chris Paul.

  • ProphetGK

    Devin Harris belongs here, and if LBJ is number one, I’m going to move to Iraq and call myself a terrorist..

  • the cynic

    makes sense, I’d rather give the ball to D. Harris then Mike Redd, but Harris has only been in the limelight for a short time

  • karizmatic

    One general rule of basetball, it’s never a good thing for your point guard to be your go to guy, especially if he has a shoot first mentality. I like Drew Harris a lot I thought he should have been an all star last year, but the Nets will go nowhere with him as the man. He shouldn’t have been ranked ahead of Kevin Martin or perhaps even Al Jefferson on this list.

  • karizmatic

    Oh and Number one is probably Kobe.

  • http://rmulawin.blogspot.com Ricky

    dam where is the clippers’ go to guy going to end up in?

  • flavur

    I would put dwyane over lebron I mean lebron made his first 2 game winning shots last season while dwyane hit more game winning shots this year than lebron so lebron will be number 3 Dwyane number 2 and Kobe number 1

  • Ian

    wolf
    pierce got to the conference finals alone
    allen did it once with cassell and big dog
    and kg did it once with spree and cassell

    seeing this reminds me of how underrated cassell was

    antoine walker was pierces second best player fuck that. so i say he did more than allen and kg with less
    i understand allen but if u take kg for a game winner over pierce u r crazy. i wouldnt take garnett for a clutch play over any other star in the game

  • doc

    @sagjism-Im as much a fan of Brons as you can get,but Kobe is the top go to guy right now.@celts fan-It dont matter how you hit the game winners you just hit them.Wade aint fucking with Bron.And until Paul Pierce over Dirk?Yeah sure,let me see him take Stackhouse and Terry to the chip.I never seen Dirk lead a team to 30 wins,which I seen Pierce do plenty of times.KG saved his career and dont ever forget that.@don cannon-fuck them clutch shots.D-Rose team was in the playoffs.@dail up are u serious Chalmers/Mo,Delonte/Wade,Bron,Moon,Beasly,Andy Big Z/Blount,and Bron team was stacked while Wades team sucked?Some of yall hate is just so deep you spit jibberish.Only difference between them teams is one got Wade so they won 45 while one had Bron and won 66.

  • Posterboyforflyness

    AT KARIZMATIC…ITS DEVIN HARRIS NOT DREW…AND HE WAS AN ALL STAR LAST YEAR…ALTHOUGH VINCE CARTER WAS STILL THE BEST OVERALL PLAYER…DEVIN HARRIS FORCES TO SCORE SOMETIMES AND SINCE THAT COACH LAWRENCE FRANK RAN THEIR OFFENSE THROUGH A SHOOT FIRST POINT GUARD INSTEAD OF A PURE TOP 5 SHOOTING GUARD THEIR OFFENSE SUFFERED EVEN THOUGH THERE WASNT ALOT TO BEGIN…I MEAN REALLY WHO WOULD U RATHER HAVE HOGGING THE BALL A PROVEN LEADER AND SCORER OR A KID WITH THE GREEN LIGHT, SHOOTING THE BALL AT A SPARATIC PACE IS NOT WHAT MAKES KIDD,PAUL,NASH,DERON THE GREAT PG’S IN THE LEAGUE..BUT HE IS A GOOD PLAYER HOPEFULLY HE FIGURES IT OUT