New York Knicks: Maurice Harkless is more than just salary filler

The New York Knicks dealt Marcus Morris at the trade deadline to the Clippers. In addition to landing L.A.’s 2020 first-round pick, they received a very useful player, Moe Harkless.

Small forward Moe Harkless was acquired by the New York Knicks in the deal that sent  Marcus Morris to Los Angeles. Harkless was included in order to match salaries as his contract is expiring at the end of this season.

The former St. John’s Red Storm star’s NBA career numbers don’t jump off the stat sheet, averaging just 7.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game on 48 percent shooting since he was drafted in 2012. However, he does have some skills that may be worth holding onto.

Defense

Before signing with L.A., the 26-year old had been a solid role player for multiple Trailblazers playoff teams. Tough defense is his calling card, using his 7-2 wingspan to disrupt passing lanes and fight through screens.

His lifetime averages of 1.5 steals and 1.1 blocks per-36 minutes help show his ability to lock down his matchup on any given night. Having spent time at shooting guard, small forward and power forward throughout his career, Harkless is very versatile. A potential lineup featuring Harkless, Damyean Dotson, Frank Ntilikina and Mitchell Robinson could definitely slow down any high-powered offense in the league.

Developing Offensive Game

Moe Harkless will never be a go-to scorer, but he’s made strides in previous years to improve his touch around the basket. Since 2017, Harkless has averaged just under eight points per game while shooting 50 percent from the field and 35 percent from three.

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His length and athleticism allow him to attack the basket with ferocity, finishing over the outstretched arms of many opposing centers. He truly fits the archetype of a 3-and-D player.

Good Veteran for Young Players

Marcus Morris was a great offensive and defensive player, but he often stagnated the offense with isolation after isolation. This wasn’t always a problem, but it really hurt the team when his shot wasn’t falling.

Harkless is the exact opposite, operating best as an off-ball player on offense who takes extremely efficient shots. In his entire career, 82 percent of his total shot attempts have been either three-pointers, layups, or dunks.

This should help open up the shot-creating duties, allowing young guys like RJ Barrett and Robinson to take on a larger role within the offense. Moe Harkless was added to the trade as salary filler, but his overall impact on the team could reap more benefits than it originally seems.

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