Player Comaprisons: Moe Harkless

St. John’s didn’t have a season to remember. But freshman forward Moe Harkless did. Harkless averaged 15.3 ppg and 8.6 rpg for the Red Storm. But playing against college players is totally different compared to playing against professionals. Harkless is a bit under-sized to be a power forward at the next level and he isn’t the quickest player to play the small forward spot. It will be interesting to see where he fits in at the next level. Here is his player profile.

Moe Harkless profile:

Height: 6’8

Weight: 208 lb

Class: Freshman

Team: St. John’s Red Storm

PPG: 15.3

RPG: 8.6

BLKPG: 1.4

FG%: 44.5

3P%: 20.2

PER: 21.0

Looking at the numbers he put up, Harkless will probably be a better defender in the NBA than a scorer. While he was a consistent scorer in his first season at the collegiate level, he is the type of player that would benefit from staying another year or two in college. His 3p% is awful and the way that the forward spot is changing, players are able to shoot the ball just as well from distance as two-guards. He took 13.3 shots per game and when you take away his 3.0 free-throws made per-game, he only averaged 12.3 points (or .92 points per shot). For a player that is “6’8”, his shooting percentage says otherwise. Maybe he isn’t comfortable in the post, but if you are 6’8, you got to have some semblance of a post game.

His jump shot is not as good as it should be. After reading some scouting reports, I now know that he can’t even create his own shot consistently. He finishes well on the break and is a good basket-cutter. That’s how he scores most of his points. You won’t get much one-on-one with him because his skill-set is so raw (I feel like I am repeating myself a lot here?). With such a raw skill-set, he also lacks the confidence to consistently be aggressive. GM’s are looking for players that have potential and don’t lack confidence, whether it’d be on offense or defense.

One thing that Harkless has going for him is his athleticism. He is a pretty solid defender and blocks a fair amount of shots for spending a lot of time on the perimeter. I think he could become a Thaddeus Young-type of player at the next level. Another guy who was pretty hyped coming out of college was Corey Brewer. Brewer was projected to be a solid defender at the next level, but he still hasn’t really panned-out. His jump shot is inconsistent and his offensive production is still suspect. One thing these two have in common is that they are both long and athletic. Harkless has about 20 lbs. on Brewer and might be a bit more explosive (Brewer dunked on Derek Fisher, so ya). Here is where the “Thaddeus Young” comparison comes into play. Young spent one season at Georgia Tech before leaping to the pros. They had nearly the same PER (Player Efficiency Rating) in college, except that Harkless averaged nearly twice as many rebounds as Young did.

Now, here is where the “Thaddeus Young” and “Corey Brewer” comparisons come into play. While Young has figured it out in the pros, Brewer hasn’t. Young has a 6th-man role with the Philadelphia 76ers and might even get votes for “Sixth Man of the Year” (if James Harden doesn’t get all of the votes). Brewer, however, has been sort of a journey-man. Drafted the Timberwolves in 2007, Brewer has also spent seasons with the Dallas Mavericks (last season) and the Denver Nuggets (this season). And now, what we have all been waiting for:

I think Harkless’ potential ranges somewhere between Brewer and Young. I think he has some qualities of both and is better than both in some areas. Harkless is a good defender (like Young), but shoots like Brewer. He is a better rebounder than both of them. Harkless might never score like Young, but more like Brewer. Yet, he might be more successful than Brewer because I think that he will be able to handle the rigors of the NBA early in his career better than Brewer did in his first few years. If you have some success early on, it always makes for a bigger, brighter, and easier future. His floor is Brewer and his ceiling is Young. He will fall somewhere between those two players. I would be surprised if he became anything more than Young.

But life is all about beating the odds, right?


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