For most of his time with the Memphis Grizzlies, there was one thing that was true about Andrew Harrison: He was not a good NBA basketball player by any stretch of the imagination. Over the course of his two NBA seasons, he shot an atrocious 37% from the field and generally struggled in nearly every facet of the game. He didn’t command the game the way an NBA point guard should, and his lack of foot quickness and explosiveness caused him to struggle on both sides of the ball.
For lack of a better way to describe it, Andrew Harrison just didn’t seem to have it. And as the former 44th pick in the 2015 NBA draft, perhaps that shouldn’t have been surprising.
Yet there is another thing that was true about Andrew Harrison: He improved.
Although Harrison was still far from being considered good, he showed just enough in his sophomore season to make you believe that he could become good. Over his last 14 games of the season, he averaged 14.8 points, 2.7 rebounds and 4.8 assists. His shooting percentages also climbed to respectable levels.
Even if he still had relatively low upside, Harrison did just enough to make many people believe that he could be the Grizzlies’ backup point guard for the foreseeable future.
So of course, the Grizzlies would decide to waive him at the first sign of real development.
Yes, Andrew Harrison may never become a good NBA player, and the Grizzlies perhaps shouldn’t have wasted two years in a vain attempt to develop him. Yes, the Grizzlies do not seem to have room for him with the present backup point guard in Shelvin Mack and the future one in Jevon Carter already on the roster
However, that is not the point.
Here’s the hard truth: There is no winning situation for the Memphis Grizzlies in waiving Andrew Harrison. One of two things will now happen: Either he will go someplace else (such as Phoenix, Houston, or San Antonio), and he will become the solid rotation player that David Fizdale so desperately envisioned, adding yet another name to the long list of players on which the Grizzlies prematurely gave up. Or he will remain a borderline NBA player, meaning that the Grizzlies aimlessly suffered through two years of wasted development on a player who just didn’t have it.
For the existentially uninitiated among you, Murphy’s Law is an adage that typically says, “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.” If last year was any indication for the Grizzlies, it appears to a very real concept. And in the case of Harrison, it probably means that he will become a cross of Andre Miller and Kyle Lowry after leaving Memphis.
It’s really the only way that this can end.
Regardless of what you think of Andrew Harrison, the Memphis Grizzlies continue to have a troubling problem. They continue to prematurely give up too quickly on players who have shown real development (Lowry, Wayne Ellington, James Johnson, etc.). Or, if you choose to be pessimistic in regards to Harrison, they waste developmental time on players who don’t have talent and upside that are worth the investment in the first place.
For the Memphis Grizzlies to find success with their next generation of role players, they will need to have a general blueprint for what type of players they wish to develop on their roster. And once they do have a blueprint, they will need to stick to it as much as possible.
Christopher Columbus didn’t turn around when he and his crew had sailed for over a month without “finding” the New World. Leonidas and his Spartans didn’t falter even as they faced 15,000 Persians. The Americans didn’t give up when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor.
So the Memphis Grizzlies should not give up on players who have shown development in their second and third years, even if they have struggled like Andrew Harrison. They should make (and own) their mistakes as they attempt to develop talented players who fit a certain identity that they desire
After all, you never want to fall victim to the unrelenting fury of an All-NBA player like Kyle Lowry, who never forgets which team gave up on him.