#15: Maurice Harkless
Moe Harkless was a freshman sensation at St. John’s in 2011-2012, but it’s Maurice Harkless that the Philadelphia 76ers drafted with the 15th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft.
Harkless wants to use his full first name, and that’s fine because a player of his potential shouldn’t share a moniker with one of the Three Stooges.
On the surface, Harkless’ addition is smart because it allows the 76ers to move Andre Iguodala for any number of players. But the real brilliance of taking Harkless at No. 15 is that he’s a young talent who should gel with the youth movement in Philadelphia. He plays a position of need—assuming the team deals Iguodala—and he has the speed to keep up with some of the other young legs with the 76ers.
“I know they are a really young team and that they play really fast,” Harkless told the media. “I think that’s the type of game that I like to play and I think I’ll fit in well.”
Point guard Jrue Holiday is only 22, Evan Turner is 23, Nikola Vucevic—who had a solid but quiet rookie season—is 21 and Thaddeus Young is 24. Plus, other youngsters like Lou Williams, Spencer Hawes, Craig Brackins, Lavoy Allen and Sam Young (all free agents) could all re-up for next season as well.
Harkless, a native of Queens, is 6-8, 207 pounds and averaged 15.3 points and 8.6 rebounds per game while playing power forward with the Red Storm. Obviously he’ll be switching to small forward in the NBA, so his lithe build isn’t much of a problem right now.
“I think the main thing is just getting stronger,” Harkless said when asked what he needs to improve. “I think that’s really what’s going to take my game to the next level.”
The upside with Harkless, who intends to finish school in his spare time, is that he didn’t shoot particularly well in college (44.5 percent from the field, 20.2 percent from 3-point range) but he was on fire during the Chicago pre-draft combine. Several scouts have said playing power forward might have affected his shooting in college because he had taller defenders putting a hand in his face.
“Going into the workouts, I showed teams how hard I work and how hard I compete,” he said. “A lot of teams didn’t think I could shoot the ball and I showed the teams I could shoot the ball really well. I think I just left a good impression on Philadelphia.”
But the best part about Harkless is his athleticism. He has a 7-0 wingspan, jumps 37 inches and covers three quarters of the court in just 3.25 seconds.
It’s rare that a playoff team has as much youth and roster flexibility as the 76ers have, but that’s a credit to president Rod Thorn and his staff.