Maurice Harkless, who signed a four-year, $40 million contract with the Portland Trail Blazers this summer, has likely won the spot of starting small forward, per reports.
The Blazers have had to decide between Harkless, Evan Turner and Allen Crabbe for the position of the starting 3.
Even though Crabbe is better suited to playing as a two-guard, the 3-and-D specialist has seen quite a bit of playing time at small forward.
When the Blazers signed Turner to a four-year, $70 million contract in free agency, it was almost a foregone conclusion that the former Celtic would assume the role of starting SF.
However, coach Terry Stotts has tried out a bunch of different combinations this preseason.
Maurice Harkless to start?
After after five exhibition games, it seems like Harkless will be in the starting unit when the regular season kicks off later this month.
“You can read into it whatever you want,” Stotts told The Oregonian about Harkless starting the last two preseason games.
“When I’m ready to announce to you — I’d like to announce to the team first before I announce to anybody else.”
According to several local publications, Stotts prefers Turner’s veteran leadership in the second unit.
Both Harkless and Turner bring varying skill sets. While Harkless is a better defender and rebounder, Turner is possibly a better perimeter shooter and playmaker.
In five preseason games, Harkless is averaging 7.6 points, 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. In comparison, Turner is averaging 8.8 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game.
Many analysts feel the Portland Trail Blazers have a legitimate shot at challenging for a top-3 seed in the forthcoming season.
Maurice Harkless a pivotal piece of the Portland team that reached the second round of the playoffs last season.