Everybody Hates Andrew
The Grizzlies have a decision to make. They have to decide by June 29th whether or not to pick up the final year of third year guard Andrew Harrison’s rookie contract. To many Grizzlies fans on Twitter, Harrison needs no introduction. During his first NBA season, he, along with Chandler Parsons, became the scapegoat of the team. Every little mistake by him, as a rookie, was blown out of proportion and criticized relentlessly. The narrative made was the fact that he can’t shoot, he turns the ball over, or he just isn’t good. Here is my humble attempt to convince you that Harrison is worth not just holding on to but someone that the team should continue to develop.
Search Andrew Harrison on Twitter, and you will find 97% of everything he is mentioned in is “why is he here” or “he sucks.” Admittedly, the first time I met him, or any NBA player, was at the first Hustle fanfest following his rookie season. I went up to him in a nervous wreck and said something along the lines of “Hey man, you were one of my favorite players this season because you did everything well! The shot wasn’t there, but blah blah blah.” I then proceeded to ask the guy for a picture, not realizing I just insulted him to his face. Being that I have personal experience in not only putting my foot in my mouth and embarrassing myself with my sports opinion, I think that I am well qualified to defend the often ridiculed yet underappreciated guard.
Any given game night you can find negativity everywhere geared towards Harrison and half of it has him tagged in it. The guy saw all of this and still went out every night and played the 8th most minutes on the team and 9th in the league among rookies. Dave Joerger never played young guys. Fizdale came in and played Andrew Harrison 20.5 mpg. It’s safe to say that it was an adjustment for fans to watch. I credit Fizdale, and JB, in letting young guys play through mistakes. We got our first real good look at Harrison during December of 2016 when Conley had a freak run-in with Frank Kaminsky. That month he set his season high game at 20 points and 8 assists. Then he faded back into the butt of jokes until he saved the Grizzlies on April 22nd, 2017, with a chase-down block on Tony Parker to set up Marc Gasol with an And-1 on the other end to get a lead with 1:27 left. That being said, the coaching staff always knew he would step up and be THAT guy because what he lacks in athleticism or shooting or whatever else people say, he makes up for in effort and heart.
His second season in the league was nothing resembling to the dictionary’s definition of “sophomoric.” He had to step up, once again, to fill the minutes of Mike Conley alongside Tyreke Evans and Mario Chalmers. Then, as Chalmers began to decline as a reliable contributor, he played even more. When you look at his seasonal stats they look very similar to his rookie season. It hides his growth. He started 46 of his 56 games this season, sitting mainly because of recurring wrist and shoulder problems. It’s safe to say he was very inconsistent putting the ball in the basket this year. Just look his game logs from this season. While playing anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes a game, he’d score anywhere from 5 to 20 points a game. He had twelve 15+ point outings compared to just one his entire rookie season. That’s twelve in 56 games compared to one in 72. I know, I know, Mike Conley played A LOT more during the 16-17 season than last, but it is without a doubt a very hopeful thing to look at.
Am I saying, Andrew Harrison is going to be an All-Star? No. But is there a chance he becomes a respectable and reliable backup guard for a team in this league? Yes, because he already is. That’s pretty much what he’s been the past two years. The Grizzlies have a decision coming up this Friday, June 29th. Pick up his team option or decline and make him a free agent. They’ve already put 3 years of development in him, so why stop now when you begin to see results. Last February, before missing 9 games to the previously mentioned wrist and shoulder issues, he had half of his twelve 15+ point games. (Sure they lost every game, but Drew can’t do everything for you!) I always look for the benefit of the doubt when it comes to this stuff. I don’t see the Grizzlies’ front office giving up on him like Wade Baldwin. With Andrew, they see hard work and progress. With Baldwin, they saw an attitude and nothing changing. I believe his option will he picked up, but, depending on how free agency, training camp, and the preseason goes, there is still no sure thing surrounding him.