Josh Harrellson provided a spark off the bench in a 91-82 Suns win over Utah on Tuesday. Is he the player needed in the Phoenix frontcourt?
The 26 year old has a journeyman's career that's brought him to New York, Miami, and Detroit. Last season brought him to China and Puerto Rico.
Last month the 2011 draft pick out of Kentucky received the opportunity to play with the Summer Suns. The goal of turning that invitation into a training camp opportunity may have seemed unlikely in June, but in July Harrellson is doing his best to force teams to take a second look.
Despite high energy in last Saturday's win over Washington, Harrellson did not score and pulled down just 2 rebounds in a Suns win over the Wizards.
The next day, with 20 minutes of playing time, he contributed 7 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 blocks in a loss to the Houston Rockets.
Last night in Las Vegas Harrellson turned heads with his 16 minutes. 6 of 7 from the field including 3 of 4 from three-point range for 15 points to go along with 9 rebounds in a 91-82 win over the Utah Jazz. Not bad for a guy that hadn't taken a shot in an NBA game since 2014.
"I felt like my old self right there. Back in Detroit, back in New York days. "It felt good to play like that, shoot the ball again. That's the first time I shot an NBA ball, when I started training camp, two-a-days, what a week ago? So that's the first time i shot an NBA ball in a year and half so, it's starting to feel good."
"I'm just trying to get more confident in myself. It feels good to be playing again, I haven't played at this level in a year and a half, it just feels good to show teams I'm back and that I haven't lost nothing."
Coach Nate Bjorkgren was impressed with Harrellson's effort.
"He was great. I think his start to the fourth quarter, hitting a couple shots there, and just being a big body in there when Alex Len is out of the game. I thought he did a really nice job with that."
"We said before, you talk about a guy that's been in the NBA, a guy that's working to try to get his way back. He's got great experience. He made the right plays today. Even though he hit two or three threes in a row there, then I think you saw him go into a dribble handoff and get others involved so the guys were really looking for each other today."
For the Pistons in 2013-14, Harrellson hit just shy of 40% of his three-point attempts. He knows to get another opportunity in the Association though, he needs to show more than his shot.
"Toughness. Toughness and defense. Being able to rebound. If I can do that every night, if I play 20 minutes, give me anywhere from 7 to 9 rebounds every night. That's a good number."
Harrellson appears to have a genuinely good rapport with his teammates in Summer League. That's not something that should be ignored by an organization that has managed to pair narrowly missing out on the playoffs with frosty relationships between players, coaches, the front office and fans. Harrellson is complimentary of his peers. After Tuesday's win he talked about Alex Len's 14 rebounds.
"Oh man, he's 9 foot 8. So it's easy for him. Alex, he's a great player. He's long, he's tall, athletic too. So it's a lot easier for him to get up there than me. I just have to be more physical and box out. He just jumps over everybody."
Harrellson and the Summer Suns get the winner of the Milwaukee Bucks and Houston Rockets Thursday at 1pm PT.