It’s not often Luke Harangody’s name gets mentioned in the same sentence as the word ‘potential.’ Not that he has no chance of becoming a good pro, but Harangody isn’t a player Jay Bilas dreams about at night. He doesn’t have ideal height (or, really, anywhere close to it), isn’t very fast (actually, he’s pretty slow), and his vertical leap may or may not be higher than my grandmother’s (I think I’d still put my money on ‘Gody — sorry, Kicki).
Despite physical traits that didn’t even set him apart in college, Harangody became one of the most productive players in Big East history. Danny Ainge has a long line of impressive second-round picks, and hope remains that Harangody is the next steal. He has so far proved doubters wrong at every level, but now Harangody has a whole new set of doubters to shoot down. He’s just not physically capable of performing at the NBA level, say his detractors. He’s too slow, too short, too unathletic.
CelticsBlog’s Kevin Henkin wrote a nice piece about Harangody’s potential, interviewing Harangody and two reporters who covered Harangody while he played at Notre Dame. Nothing Henkin found was too earth-shattering, but the quotes supported the view of Harangody I already held.
Offensively, Harangody will always be able to score. Even when he matches up against taller, more athletic players, Harangody has always been able to put the ball in the basket. I imagine he’d be able to provide an offensive spark for the Celtics, even this early in his career. For some players, scoring comes easy.
“The one thing about Luke Harangody that I’ve always seen is that he adapts,” Noie said. “Whenever he was going against a bigger guy, maybe someone who was quicker, he adapted and figured out how to get his shot off even quicker. It’s a low shot but it’s also a quick shot. He doesn’t need much time from when he gets the ball to get it up on the rim and usually it was going in.”
Harangody already adjusted his game prior to entering the NBA. After shooting only nine three-pointers as a sophomore in college, he extended his range. He attempted 38 trifectas in his junior year, and 81 last season. By the time NBA summer league rolled around this past summer, Harangody was a constant threat from beyond the NBA arc. His release almost gives me a seizure, but it’s quickness allows him to get shots off, and he’s become a damn good outside shooter.
Harangody spent his college career, and preseason, showing a work ethic both on and off the court. Looking at Harangody’s build from his freshman year in college to now, it’s easy to see how he works on his physique. He carries that same effort onto the court.
”I don’t see why Luke can’t be a nice piece,” Hamilton said. “On the right team, in the right circumstance, surrounded by the right guys, he can fill several need areas. Hustle, rebounds, pick-and-pop shots, points off the offensive glass. It’s not cliché to say the guy’s motor runs pretty high. I don’t think he’s going to take possessions off like some other guys in the NBA might do, so does he get you four to six points a game simply by playing harder than other people? Very possibly.”
But as much effort as Harangody can offer, and as good a shooter he is for a power forward, Harangody’s professional career might come down to one question:
Who can he defend?
At 6’7″, ‘Gody is short, slow, and lacking length. Clearly, not the best combination of traits if you want to keep an NBA opponent from scoring. He’s too slow to stay in front of small forwards, and likely too short to bother power forwards. Glen Davis has thrived defensively with a similar build, but even Davis is both taller and quicker than Harangody. Still, ‘Gody should look no further than his roundest teammate to learn how to maximize his defensive potential.
At his size, it’s safe to say Harangody will never be a shot-blocker. But just like Davis has done, Harangody needs to embrace the Celtics’ defensive concepts and pride himself on beating an opponent to a spot. If you can’t block shots, start taking charges. Learn the schemes and rotate like an animal. It’s likely (almost definite) that Harangody will never become a one-on-one defensive stopper, but there’s nothing keeping him from playing great team defense.
It helps Harangody’s cause that Kevin Garnett has tutored him. Garnett is considered one of the best team defenders ever.
“One of the coolest things about being on this team is that you just learn so much,” Harangody said. “Everyday, I learn so much from Kevin. He takes me aside and for a player like that to do that, I’m really thankful.”
Harangody considers himself lucky to be a part of the Boston Celtics. He sees how Davis, Ryan Gomes, and Leon Powe have contributed in Boston, and he knows the Celtics trust second-round draft picks and allow them to blossom.
But if ‘Gody ever wants to become a second-round steal himself, he still has some work to do. He still has another wave of doubters to prove wrong.