Point guards Kris Dunn and Shaquille Harrison came into the NBA from opposite ends of the spectrum — Dunn was the fifth overall pick in the 2016 draft, Harrison an undrafted free agent who started in the G League.
The disparity between the two still is pretty significant. But where Dunn’s offense has withered a bit as he has played more in coach Jim Boylen’s system, Harrison’s is growing.
The 6-4, 190-pound Harrison came into the game against the Raptors on Saturday off a career-high 21-point, 10-rebound performance in a loss to the Trail Blazers on Wednesday at the United Center. Since his minutes increased with Dunn out with an injury, Harrison scored 18 points in a victory against the Wizards and 15 in a loss to the Raptors. He had shot 50.9 percent from the field in his previous 15 games.
Though Harrison is known mostly as a defensive stopper and “glue guy,’’ Boylen sees room for more growth offensively because of Harrison’s versatile skills.
“Absolutely,” Boylen said. “He’s improving his shooting [and] his ability to finish at the rim, to play near the rim, to get to the paint and make decisions. He has a couple of things that to me make you great: He works. He’s tough. He embraces contact and collision. Everything else from there is just skill development and opportunity to play. And he’s getting those.”
Harrison, 25, still is on the fringe of being a keeper next season. But his growth offensively can’t hurt his case.
“It’s definitely a good feeling for me [to score] because I came in here and put the work in and to see it manifested on the court is really uplifting,” he said.
“It’s a great opportunity. Not many guys in the world have this opportunity. I’m trying to take full advantage of it. That’s why you work hard every day — because you never know what’s going to happen.”
Some starts for Lemon
Chicagoan Walt Lemon Jr. came off the bench against the Raptors. But Boylen already is looking ahead to giving Lemon a bigger shot.
“I can envision a scenario soon when Walt starts a game or two and gets a feel for playing with that first group,” Boylen said. “I was encouraged with Walt, the way he’s picked up things.
‘‘Our system is very similar to Windy City’s. That’s on purpose, but there are some different things we’re doing with this group. But I could see him starting down the stretch in a game or two.”
Kudos to Hoiberg
Boylen offered hearty congratulations to former Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg, who was hired as Nebraska’s coach Saturday.
“I’m really ecstatic for him,” Boylen said. “I know he loves coaching college basketball — we’ve had many of those conversations. He did a terrific job at Iowa State. It looks like Nebraska’s right in his wheelhouse. I’m sure he’ll take that program to the next level. I’m happy for him and his family.”