This post was written by a longtime friend of mine, Justin Brown. He’s a basketball junkie and has spent his free time during the lockout watching any kind of basketball he can.
Sunday marks Day #130 of the Lockout and Orlando fans are still missing their beloved Magic Basketball. While a few Magic players are currently involved in negotiations there is one player who has taken his talents overseas. Most Magic fans agreed in August that it was a wise decision for Justin Harper, taken 32nd overall in ’11 Draft, to sign a deal to play in France’s LNB (one of Europe’s finest leagues). He’s already had a chance to play against proven NBA Cornermen (legit euroterm, look it up) like Nicholas Batum and Ian Mahimi. In just a few weeks J-Harp will face-off against the French League’s most recent NBA Lockout-signee Ronny Turiaf who, along with Tony Parker, plays for Lyon-ASVEL, a top French club. Harper is facing tougher competition than he’s ever seen while logging heavy minutes. Let’s take a look at his season averages through his first 5 games with French club Strasbourg SIG.
After the jump, we’ll take a closer look at Harper’s performance so far.
Justin Harper, 2011 Strasbourg SIG PF/Cornerman
Most Magic fans probably expect every NBA draft pick to automatically start overseas. This is not always the case; just look at former Piston DaJuan Summers. Summers was just dropped by Siena Le Mans in Italy last week (granted Siena is an elite Euroleague club). It’s very impressive that the 22 year-old Harper has been able to start every game of his young pro career. Turnovers and shooting percentage have been a problem, but that it is expected from any 1st-year pro. 11.6ppg is a very good scoring average in Europe; remember that games are not as long as in the NBA (11.6ppg in FIBA = 14ppg in NBA). Another positive sign is that Harper just enjoyed his best 3-point shooting game by far (3/5 from 3-point range in a loss to Chalon on Saturday 11/5).
Now here are a few videos of J-Harp doing his thing over in France. Footage comes from Le Coupe French (the French Cup) unless otherwise noted. The French Cup is a preseason open tournament that includes both French professional and amateur basketball clubs.
Video Caption: Early pick-n-roll play gives J-Harp (#5 in white) solid position in the paint against Dijon, a top French team. When the ball finally arrives he knows what to do: Turn and Score! (How do you say 3 seconds in French?)
Video Caption: Set out of bounds play drawn-up in beautifully to get J-Harp this wide-open 3 (take notes SVG!). This video displays exactly why the Magic drafted Harper: his length & range.
Video Caption: Here are highlights from an exhibition match between a top German-club, Frankfurt Skyliners (blue), and Harper’s French club, Strasbourg (white). Strasbourg is very close to the French-German border so it makes sense for the two clubs to scrimmage. It doesn’t take J-Harp (#5) long to get involved: After tip-off, J-Harp makes a strong spin-move in the paint to score over two defenders (:45 sec mark). Very next play he steps-in to bury a contested 3-pointer. Enjoy Magic fans.