The saddest thing about the entire Stephon Marbury saga is that there is actually another point guard worth talking about in the New York area this season. And, unlike Marbury, Devin Harris wears a uniform, plays in games and plays really, really well. Well enough that some have called him the best point guard in the Eastern Conference, a notion that's hard to argue with at this point in the season.
How is Harris doing so well? It's not just a matter of a good player getting more minutes and playing a bigger role than he had in Dallas, although those are both contributing factors. The secret lies in the free throw attempt column of his scoresheet. Harris is getting to the line 11.2 times a night, which is nearly eight more attempts per game than he's averaged over his career. That number includes this season, which makes the increase even larger.
Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus has crunched the numbers and finds that what Harris is doing is historical in nature. Only one player in league history has experienced a bigger gain in free throw attempts from one season to the next than Harris' 6.5 attempts per game growth. He's getting to the line on almost 10 percent more of his possessions and nearly one-quarter of the time he winds up shooting freebies.
Those numbers will fluctuate as the season progresses, of course, but given the nature of Harris' game and his growing stature around the league (and its referees), it probably won't drop too precipitously. Taken with Pelton's final finding, that's reason for great joy in Netsville. Assuming Harris finishes the season with more than 10 free throw attempts a game, he'll become part of a small fraternity of players under 6-foot-4 who have also done that over a season.
Jerry West, Allen Iverson, Dwyane Wade, Nate Archibald, Paul Arizin, Gilbert Arenas and World B. Free are the other members, nice company for Harris to be in and a nice way to start a Nets career that's looking mighty bright.