I've got a question for you guys, one that I've struggled to answer myself. I keep wrestling with this question, and I don't move any closer to having a definitive response. So I pose to you:
Will Luke Harangody piece together a productive NBA career?
Why can't I answer that myself? Because my mind can't properly process Harangody's information.
"There's no way he'll be a successful pro," one side of me thinks. "He's a 6'7 power forward with a grandmother's athleticism! And a jumper that turns sightful people blind! And have you ever seen him? He doesn't exactly pass the looks test."
My other side replies, "But he was the most productive player in Big East history! I repeat: The. Most. Productive. Player. In. Big. East. History. He's got a knack for scoring, and, well, a post player doesn't add an NBA three-point shot to his arsenal without working his tail off."
"But he's 6'7, in heels."
"But he scored 2,476 points in college, then learned how to shoot (albeit with the beauty of a cow's rump)."
"But he can't even jump over a sticky note."
"But he grabbed 1,222 rebounds at Notre Dame, to go along with all those points."
"But even Stevie Wonder cringes at the sight of Harangody's shot."
"But it goes in!"
"But he's white!"
Can you tell the conflict that rages inside my brain? How will Luke Harangody's NBA career unfold? And maybe an even better question: Why do I spend so much time thinking about a 15th man?
Probably because -- for now, at least -- he's in the rotation. And he even played pretty well last game, even though his jumper wasn't falling. Harangody's not shy on the court, and he's a workhorse. He hustles his undersized, white self all over the court. Where Luke Harangody goes, action soon follows. He's got a nose for the ball, as they say, and that's mostly because he's got the activity level of an A.D.D.-riddled 11-year old who just downed 12 Coca-Colas and eight pixie sticks.
When Harangody was drafted, defense was my biggest concern. Who would he be able to guard? He's too short to defend most (all?) big men, I thought, and too slow to defend anyone on the perimeter.
But then Harangody received his most extensive playing time yet, and he did an admirable job on Emeka Okafor. Who's almost seven feet tall.
"You know, Luke Harangody was guarding Emeka Okafor," Doc Rivers told ESPN Boston. "I mean, what a [heck] of a matchup that is."
Yet Harangody stopped the Hornets' big man, using a combination of strength, basketball IQ and an iron-clad will. Score one for Harangody, and his ability to stop people at the NBA level.
Unfortunately, there's also another side to Doc's quote. If Doc Rivers regards Emeka Okafor as such a mismatch for Harangody, um, how will Harangody fare when he meets a big man with actual offensive talent? It's not like Okafor's a scoring machine, yet Rivers sounded like it was a miracle Harangody stopped him. Does that not make you concerned, that Rivers seemed incredulous at the thought of his player stopping Emeka Okafor? Emeka Okafor, people! Once a Rookie of the Year, yes, but far from an offensive juggernaut. Still, Rivers seemed shocked 'Gody could stop him.
I guess that's just the way things are with Luke Harangody. Whenever he does something well, it's a surprise, or a fluke, or a miracle. And whenever he fails, well, he's a 6'7", white power forward with hardly a speck of athletic ability. He's supposed to fail. Wait... has he ever failed yet?
Not really, no. He's produced at every level, but, because he doesn't fit the mold, Harangody will always have his doubters (included in said doubters: part of me). And because of those doubts, because of his far-from-imposing physical ability, because he flunks the looks test miserably, the Harangody quandary remains.
He's never failed, yet loads of people expect him to. He hasn't yet proven himself at an NBA level, but would you want to bet against him? He could prove every detractor wrong and produce a long, highly successful NBA career, or he could be out of the NBA in a couple years.
What I'm trying to say is this:
Whatever becomes of Harangody's career, would you really be surprised?