Philadelphia 76ers: Get to know Shaquille Harrison

(Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)
(Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images) /

Now more than ever, the Philadelphia 76ers need a strong training camp to get things on track heading into the regular season.

Down their second-best player, Doc Rivers has a golden opportunity to try different lineups, present players in a new light, and most importantly of all, get all of his attending players on the same page while the rest of the league wants to talk about who isn’t in the building.

For some, like Andre Drummond, and Tyrese Maxey, this is a golden opportunity to earn expansive roles in Rivers’ rotation sans the 6-foot-10 elephant in the room. For others, like Tobias Harris, Seth Curry, and Shake Milton, this presents a chance to expand out their games and take on more ball-handling roles sans an established number one point guard.

And for other players, like Shaquille Harrison, who just signed a training camp deal with the team on September 27, 2021, it presents a chance to prove that they are worthy of an NBA roster spot either with the Philadelphia 76ers or elsewhere. But who is Harrison, and does he actually have a chance to earn a spot on Doc Rivers’ 15 man roster? Well, read on and find out.

Get to know the newest member of the Philadelphia 76ers, Shaquille Harrison.

Alright, let’s get the other elephant in the room out of the way: Shaquille Harrison (probably) isn’t going to make the Philadelphia 76ers’ roster this fall.

The team already has all 15 of their roster spots filled by players on guaranteed contracts, and both of their two-way contracts are filled by young options with higher upsides. If the Sixers were to somehow have a roster spot open up, likely due to a trade with more outputs than inputs, Harrison would surely be in consideration for the opening, but so would Aaron Henry, Grant Riller, and any players like Langston Galloway, who was pretty good in Detroit before falling into a part-time role on the very good Phoenix Suns.

With that being said, if Harrison shows out over the summer and proves himself a viable defense-first combo guard at the NBA level, he could still ingratiate himself to the Sixers’ brass.

Measuring in at 6-foot-7, 190 pounds, Harrison is a positionless defender who can comfortably switch off on any wing shooter one-through-four. While he’s not much of a scorer, as the pride of Tulsa University has never averaged more than 1.2 shots per game from beyond the arc or 5.8 total shots per game over a full NBA season, Harrison has remained employed due to his ability to come off of the bench when his team needs him sans regular rotational minutes and serve as a stopper for a few minutes of action here or there.

Harrison has only appeared in more than 45 games once in his NBA career, where he started 11 games versus 73 appearances for the Chicago Bulls in 2018-19 and has since been used more as a deep bench reserve than a steady contributor.

After his tenure in Chicago came to a close, Harrison signed with the Utah Jazz to hopefully add some defensive fire to Quin Snyder‘s bench in 2020-21 but was ultimately waived after playing 17 games for the team. He resurfaced shortly thereafter on a two-way contract with the Denver Nuggets, appearing in 17 games without a start for that team as well, but didn’t inspire enough confidence to be retained on a full-time basis, instead having to spend his summer waiting for a phone to ring.

That finally happened a few days ago, and now it’s on Harrison to prove he’s worth the opportunity.

Down Ben Simmons‘ supersized defensive efforts, Harrison will surely be tasked with playing some big-ball point guard in some of the Sixers’ defense-focused lineups, filling the former’s shoes as best he can.

A tough task to ask a journeyman guard on his third team this year? Maybe so, I can understand wanting to retain the option of having a supersized defensive lineup with Danny Green and Matisse Thyulle on the wings, Charles Bassey and Embiid in the paint, and a super-sized point guard at the one, especially with the team’s current starting backcourt measuring in at 6-foot-2 and 6-foot-3.

Heck, maybe the team could even experiment with Harrison at the four if they’d like really go all-in on replacing Simmons with the Giant Brand alternative, he does average a steal a game in 15.2 minutes of action a night while taking very few 3s; he’s practically the same guy.

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In a perfect world, Shaquille Harrison would have been able to latch on with a team that has an open roster spot or at least a few players on non-guaranteed contracts. He’d be able to compete for a roster spot, leave it all out on the court, and know that whatever the outcome, he at least tried his best. While the Philadelphia 76ers don’t presently present that opportunity as their roster is presently composed, if Harrison showcases his defensive versatility to the team’s brass, it could ultimately pay off, either in the near future or a bit further down the line.