Denver Nuggets news: Gary Harris visits China NBA camp, says good defenders will get plaudits after snub
The defenceman is attending an NBA basketball camp in Mission Hills Haikou, China
Denver Nuggets shooting guard Gary Harris was labelled one of the NBA’s most overlooked defensive players last season having not been picked for any of the All-NBA Defensive Teams.
The 23-year-old had a defensive rating of 107.5 and a steal average of 1.8 per game last season, according to NBA statistics, well below Denver’s average of 108.8 – the fifth weakest in the league.
And while Chinese fans tend to focus on offensive talents such as Golden State Warriors’ Stephen Curry and Houston Rockets’ James Harden, Harris believes “good” defenders receive sufficient plaudits.
“I think they get enough credit – everybody knows who the good defenders are because they really know the game,” said Harris at an NBA basketball camp in Mission Hills Haikou, China. “There are so many aspects of the game but that’s just a part of the NBA.”
Harris led a two-day training camp for dozens of junior Chinese players, imploring fundamental ball skills he himself practised as an aspiring player. Several participants were also fascinated with Harris’ big hands, comparing width and height as he closed out a successful first visit to China.
“Some of the kids were really good,” he said post-camp. “It was cool to see them so attentive and ready to learn ... [I have] high expectations from what they’ve shown me. They should keep having fun and look to improve.”
Harris signed a lucrative four-year US$84 million contract extension at the tail of 2017, putting him in the top ten paid shooting guards in the 2018-19 season alongside Harden, DeMar DeRozan, Jimmy Butler and Klay Thompson.
He is a firm believer in spreading basketball in communities outside of the US and will participate in the “Basketball Without Borders” programme with formidable Nuggets teammate Nikola Jokic in Jokic’s native Serbia in August.
“For sure, basketball is huge over here in China, it’s a great NBA market,” said Harris. “It’s important [to push basketball] because the NBA is played in the US but there are so many other people who love the game. We want to give people a chance to experience it and to demonstrate this is an obtainable goal.
“It all starts at a young age and it’s just a matter of continuing to play and grow,” said Harris, who added that his one main goal for next season is for the Nuggets to make the play-offs.
The NBA Basketball School at Mission Hills Haikou is scheduled for completion in early 2020. It will include six indoor courts and NBA-trained coaches to help foster the future generation of Chinese basketball players.
An additional NBA interactive store will open in Mission Hills at the end of 2018, allowing basketball fans a chance to learn about the league’s most influential figures of the game.