Saturday, December 1, 2007

Paul Harris Is Charles Barkley

If this Syracuse team is going anywhere, it will be because Paul Harris wants it to.

Syracuse small forward Paul Harris has a game only a mother could love. He can't shoot from outside of 10 feet, he's not that sweet from the free throw line and he just plays ugly. He bangs, he turns the ball over on ill-advised passes and he forces tough shots around the rim without giving a second thought to whether his shot will get sent into next week. But it's that ugliness that makes him so good. He is always around the ball, routinely outrebounding guys half a foot taller than and putting it back up in traffic with reckless abandon. It doesn't hurt that he's built like a truck. He's 6'5", 235lbs and looks like a linebacker out there. Watching him play reminds me of someone about his size who about 2 decades ago played in almost the exact same fashion. So much so that I decided to look up his stats and compare the two. And when I did, I was struck by how much their games mirror eachother. That man, Charles Barkley.

First, Barkley's college playing size was 6'6", 235lbs. Paul Harris is 6'5", 235lbs. So the size is almost exactly the same. But check out how similarly their stats are:

Paul Harris
06-07 Syr 8.6 pts 7.1 rebs 1.6 A's 0.8 stls 0.6 blks 68.1 FT%
07-08 Syr 12.2 pts 10.5 rebs 3.8 A's 2.2 stls 0.5 blks 72.4 FT%

Charles Barkley
81-82 Aub 12.7 pts 9.8 rebs 1.1 A's 1.8 stls 0.5 blks 63.6 FT%
82-83 Aub 13.0 pts 8.6 rebs 1.6 A's 1.5 stls 1.0 blks 63.1 FT%
83-84 Aub 15.1 pts 9.5 rebs 2.1 A's 1.8 stls 1.1 blks 68.3 FT%
It's remarkable how similar they are. Paul is a little more complete a player who looks to dish more often and playing the wing on the 2-3 zone doesn't give him the opportunities to block shots like Barkley did in man-to-man, and Barkley was a little more valuable on the offensive end, but other than that their production is almost identical. And I love watching Harris play in the same way I remember watching Barkley play. If Paul can keep this up, he make a name for himself in the same way... at least on the court.

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