Stotts said Harkless would be joined in the Opening Night lineup by Damian Lillard, C.J. McCollum, Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee, but the small forward gig was the only job that was truly up for grabs. Harkless finished last season on a strong note while working as a member of the starting five and proved to be a better fit with the top unit during the preseason than newcomer Evan Turner and holdover Allen Crabbe, but all three players could see fairly similar minutes throughout the campaign.
Harkless didn't put forth a particularly inspiring performance, but may have secured the starting small forward job regardless, given that primary competitor Evan Turner only managed one point over 23 bench minutes. A significant amount of the Blazers'scoring figures to emanate from their talented backcourt, but Harkless should be a solid contributor across the stat sheet overall at the three.
Harkless managed only three points (1-4 FG, 0-2 3Pt, 1-2 FT), three assists and a rebound over 17 minutes in Thursday's 109-108 preseason loss to the Clippers.
Getting his turn in the small forward starting rotation, Harkless considerably underwhelmed over his brief allotment of playing time. As had been the case on Tuesday versus the Lakers-- when Harkless came off the bench and his primary competitor for the starting three role Evan Turner drew the start-- it was the reserve who outperformed the starter, as the latter turned in an eight-point, three-rebound, three-assist outing Thursday. Harkless will presumably head back to the bench for the Blazers' tilt against the Nuggets on Sunday and the competition will likely continue until the regular season opener draws much nearer.
Locked in a battle for the starting small forward spot with Allen Crabbe and Evan Turner, Harkless took Tuesday's round, outperforming both players while coming off the bench. Harkless received the start in the preseason opener and logged 10 points, and Crabbe and Turner have had their turns in the starting five in the two subsequent games, so coach Terry Stotts could well be going with a three-man rotation during the exhibition slate until he reaches a decision on a starter. With Turner also able to fill in at either guard spot and Crabbe likely profiling better as a second-unit option, Harkless could have the inside track for the job if he can continue to produce as he did Tuesday.
With coach Terry Stotts indicating that Al-Farouq Aminu will move over to power forward this season after acting as the starting small forward for much of the 2015-16 campaign, the Trail Blazers have only one lineup spot up for grabs during training camp. While the newly re-signed Allen Crabbe is in the mix for those duties, Harkless and Turner, who were also rewarded with new contracts from the Trail Blazers this offseason, appear to have demonstrated that they're the best two fits with the top unit during the early stages of camp. Stotts will use the next four weeks to determine which of those two options will ultimately win the starting role, but Harkless certainly has a compelling case for expanded playing time even if he's forced to come off the bench to open the year. Harkless started the final 11 games of the past regular season and remained with the top unit in the playoffs, proving himself as an excellent fit alongside Aminu, particularly on the defensive end.
|Last 7 Games|
|Complete Game Log|
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|Career Shooting Stats|
|More Postseason Stats|
|College Career Shooting Stats|
|2011-12||St. John's (N.Y.)||32||1155||193||427||45.2||17||79||21.5||94||139||67.6||497||15.5|
|More College Stats|
|2011-12||St. John's (N.Y.)||32||1155||188||5.9||47||1.5||51||1.6||45||1.4||80|
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