Maurice Harkless has shown flashes of his potential with the Portland Trail Blazers the past month. He’s had recent scoring outings of 22, 19 (x2), and 15. He’s stepping up as injuries to Evan Turner and Shabazz Napier have opened up some playing time.
With Turner and Napier both back, there’s only so many minutes to go around. But as Terry Stotts told Jason Quick of NBCSNW, he’s going to reward Harkless’ play:
On Friday at least, the coach conceded that he will probably extend his rotation from nine to 10, at least for the time being. Most coaches -- particularly late in the season -- like to limit their rotations to nine players in order to give them adequate playing time to establish a rhythm. If Harkless forges a regular spot back in the rotation, it will likely have to come at the expense of Napier, the team’s third guard.
“Moving forward I’m sure (Harkless) will be playing,’’ Stotts said. “Evan with the minutes restriction, you know, kind of makes it a little easier on me. Now, I assume Evan’s minutes will be going up, so they will have to come from somewhere. ‘’
Harkless has provided a shooting punch, which is a pleasant surprise. He’s had recent 3-point shooting performances of 5-of-5, 3-of-4, and 2-of-3. Damian Lillard appreciates the shooting, but most of all, the energy he brings:
“We get those sprint backs, those block, the deflections, the finishing in the paint, the offensive rebounds, knocking down 3s … when we get that from Mo we are a completely different team,’’ Lillard said. “I literally get excited when I see him doing those things. That’s why I will be the first guy to tell him: ‘We need you like this all the time. Nobody else on our roster can do what you do, and what you bring to the table.’’’
Harkless is averaging 5.6 points and 2.7 rebounds per game this season on 20.2 minutes a game. In his last four games, he’s played no less than 23 minutes and topped out at about 31 minutes.
You can read the rest of Quick’s piece here.