Chicago Bulls might have misread Harrison's value

                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  • On paper, guard Shaq Harrison looks like someone who should have played more often for the Bulls this season. A strong perimeter defender, Harrison was better than expected offensively.

    On paper, guard Shaq Harrison looks like someone who should have played more often for the Bulls this season. A strong perimeter defender, Harrison was better than expected offensively. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 4/24/2020 10:01 AM

Ninth in a series

The scouting report for two years on Shaq Harrison has been good defense, but a long, long way to go on offense.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Now what if you were told Harrison actually was fourth-best 3-point shooter on the Bulls this season?

Sure, the sample size is small, since he attempted just 42 shots from long range, but the numbers don't lie. Adam Mokoka led the Bulls in 3-point percentage at 40 percent, followed by Ryan Arcidiacono at 39.1 percent, Otto Porter at 38.7 and Harrison at 38.1.

Add the fact that Harrison topped the Bulls in net rating and is in six of their eight most successful two-man lineups and it's easy to draw this conclusion: Harrison should have played more this season.

The 6-foot-4 guard played double-figure minutes in just seven games before Jan. 31, when Kris Dunn was sidelined by a knee injury at Brooklyn. Eventually, the Bulls went 4-6 with Harrison in the starting lineup.

During the Bulls' many struggles this season, it was easy to wonder why they didn't accentuate their strengths by utilizing Dunn and Harrison together. Those two ranked first and third, respectively, in the NBA in steals per minute played, among players with at least 30 games.

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Neither Dunn nor Harrison are great offensive players. But it's not like the Bulls were loaded with quality 3-point shooters to throw into the lineup. Since they had two aggressive perimeter defenders on the roster, why not turn them loose and see what happens?

Maybe the Bulls would end up with some easy fastbreak baskets off steals, which are even better than the analytics experts' favorite shot, the corner 3-pointer.

Heading toward the future, both Dunn and Harrison can be restricted free agents this summer, if the Bulls make qualifying offers.

Dunn's future is a little more tricky, since he was a No. 5 overall draft pick. Harrison was undrafted out of Tulsa and played for the minimum salary this season. While Dunn was on pace to miss 30 games for the third consecutive season, Harrison hasn't had any significant injuries in his two years with the Bulls.

So it seems like a no-brainer for the Bulls to re-sign Harrison, maybe to a longer deal this time. It's possible they would choose to keep just one of their talented perimeter defenders -- or none, since it's logical that Arturas Karnisovas will make roster changes.

At least Harrison can provide statistical proof he made the Bulls better this season.

• Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls

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