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Maurice Harkless: 2019-20 Fantasy Basketball Sleeper

Not only have the Clippers done a complete overhaul of their roster, but they have added the necessary role players to help create the perfect atmosphere for their superstars.

Forward Maurice Harkless is one of those players who not only can score from anywhere on the court, but his defensive focus is his primary threat and a gem for fantasy players.

Not many players can give you a steal, block and convert multiple threes on a consistent basis, but Harkless can and has, which is why he's a fantasy draft sleeper heading into the 2019-2020 season.

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2019-20 Fantasy Outlook - Maurice Harkless

Throughout most of last season, Harkless was posting at least a steal and a block every game with the Portland Trail Blazers. With that squad, he was forced into a secondary scoring role like the one he'll have in Los Angeles. Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum utilized Harkless to stretch the floor, but most of the time if Harkless wasn’t hitting, the spacing was completely thrown off. For a player that is better on the defensive end and is built for catch and shoot situations, asking him to generate offense throws a hitch into his playstyle.

Since Portland was a bigger, rebounding team, any time their forwards like Harkless or Al-Farouq Aminu were scoring from the outside, the All-Star guard tandem could easily expose defenses. With the Clippers, the offense will come from Paul George, Kawhi Leonard, and Lou Williams doing most of the facilitating, forcing defenses to collapse to them. This is where Harkless will thrive. Since his passing is less than ideal, the more chances he can get to either drive or shoot the better.

Since Leonard and George have been traded to Los Angeles, many fantasy players are going to overlook the rest of the Clipper frontcourt, especially the forwards. Luckily for Harkless and anyone tempted to take the risk on him, he is a standard stretch four that can guard above his size. Combine his athleticism with George and Leonard’s two-way skill and this defense becomes an immediate problem, with Harkless ready to do the most shot blocking and rebound chasing.

Easily the best part about drafting someone like Harkless closer to the 9th or 10th round is that he has minimal downside. We know he is going to get plenty of run at the four in Los Angeles, and anytime one of the two superstars decide to rest, it allows Harkless to see more run as a 3-and D forward, leaving Montrezl Harrell and Ivica Zubac to freely roam the paint. The Clippers are set up to have a near-concrete rotation and once the season starts, we will get a better indication of where they want to go in terms of minutes.

As of right now, it’s hard to see them playing Harrell and Zubac at the same time, so while Harkless will get the start at the four on most nights, he is likely to be the first one out as well. He should be getting around 23-27 minutes every night depending on availability, but the Clippers do not have many hybrid forwards outside of their two best players. Harkless is going to receive an excess of minutes on multiple occasions.

I wouldn’t consider drafting him before the 9th round, but if Harkless is available and you are unsure about your other option, take the time to recognize the consistency that he is coming into. This team is built on star power, which means the role players are going to get their fair share of chances to shine. They won’t be dominating in usage, but Harkless is going to be benefitting from the dynamic of this offense. Even if there is an unfortunate injury, or Doc Rivers indulges in resting his players, Harkless is the young forward capable of picking up the slack on both sides of the ball whenever necessary.

The numbers are not going to jump off the charts, but he will give you the essential stats that can keep your team from slacking in any one category. He is coming off one of his worst seasons shooting and it’s hard to see that drastically changing despite the attempts going up. Look for him to improve on his defensive stats, but I don’t expect him to be shooting the lights out any time soon. He should float around a 45-48 FG%, so while its low for the common big, he should be able to increase is overall scoring and put up one made three a game.

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