Chicago Bulls: Ron Harper Jr. walking in his father’s footsteps

Ron Harper Jr., Chicago Bulls (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
Ron Harper Jr., Chicago Bulls (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

As someone who won three championship rings with the Jordan-era Chicago Bulls and then later another two with the Shaq and Kobe Los Angeles Lakers, Ron Harper is a name that fans around here won’t soon forget.

When B.J. Armstrong was stolen away by the Toronto Raptors in the 1995 expansion draft, the Bulls needed a new primary point guard to step up and replace his production. Fortunately, Harper was more than ready to adapt to working alongside the superstar duo of Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

Averaging over 20 points and attempting 17.8 field goals per contest the year before joining the Bulls, Harper completely changed his high usage ways to be exactly what Chicago needed. Harper scaled back his usage to take only 6.5 field goal attempts per game and became a perfect complementary piece to the Bulls during their second three-peat.

But as Father’s Day gives us time to reflect, perhaps Harper’s greatest achievement wasn’t on the basketball court, it was raising a son who was capable of equally great things. As the big day fast approaches, Ron Harper Jr. is fighting for a spot on a roster and may soon hear his name called out at the Barclay’s Center during this year’s NBA Draft.

Chicago Bulls legend Ron Harper left a lasting legacy in the NBA, now his son intends to make a similar impact starting with 2022 NBA Draft aspirations.

As a four-year senior at Rutgers, Harper Jr. made the most of his development time and enjoyed his best season to date in 2022. He led the Scarlet Knights in scoring, posting averages of 15.8 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. With Harper Jr. at the helm, Rutgers would finish 4th in the Big Ten—their highest placement since joining the conference in 2014.

Although Rutgers would lose in the First Four of the NCAA tournament, it’s a marvel they even got there in the first place. Before Harper Jr. came to town, Rutgers had failed to make an NCAA appearance since 1991 and had not won a game in the tournament since 1983.

As the best player on the roster, Harper Jr. managed to take Rutgers to the big dance not once but twice in both 2021 and 2022. Rutgers would even pull off an underdog win against the 7th seeded Clemson Tigers in 2021. After granting Rutgers one of their best stretches in school history, Harper Jr. is turning his eyes to the next level.

Considered a second-round talent by most, his age will likely be held against him compared to other long-term projects in his draft range. Still, his natural talent and shooting prowess will be hard to deny. Harper Jr. hit an impressive 39.8% of his 3-point attempts on a high volume as a senior, something teams won’t overlook in a league that values shooting now more than ever.

In fact, the Pippen Ain’t Easy official 2022 NBA Mock Draft projects Harper Jr. to be drafted 57th overall by the Golden State Warriors. This would be an ideal fit for a player like Harper Jr., as the Warriors have proven themselves to have one of the best developmental programs in the NBA and have also recently helped another former NBA star’s son rise to prominence with Gary Payton Jr.

Still, it’s fun to imagine a scenario where he goes undrafted, and Harper Jr. can continue his father’s legacy in the Windy City; he’d actually make for quite a nice fit with these Chicago Bulls as well. Fortunately, we’ll only have to wait a few more days to see where Harper Jr.’s basketball journey takes him next.

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