Philadelphia 76ers: Tobias Harris’ quiet and impressive start to the season

Tobias Harris | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images)
Tobias Harris | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Michael Gonzales/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Philadelphia 76ers have gotten a lot from Tobias Harris through six games.

Tobias Harris isn’t the Philadelphia 76ers‘ best player. He doesn’t have the tightest handles nor the most suffocating defense. He also isn’t the player getting the most media attention. But his contributions to the Sixers should not be overlooked. Despite what has seemed like a quiet start to the season for forward, Harris’ consistent and efficient play is a major reason the Sixers are 5-1.

As Lucas Johnson, Co-Site Expert of The Sixer Sense, pointed out, Harris’ solid play in the season opener flew under the radar, and that trend has continued through five games. Harris is currently averaging 20.3 points and 8.8 rebounds per contest while shooting 52.2 percent from the floor and 32.3 percent from three. Although the three-point percentage could improve, the $180 million dollar man has done all that has been asked of him.

One of Harris’ biggest weaknesses last season was his defense, and through six games, he has shown vast improvement. Harris is the Sixers’ worst defensive starter, yet he boasts an impressive 101.3 defensive rating, up from 110.5 from last season.

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Although the sample size is small, Harris’ effort on that end of the floor is evident. In one of the most important possessions in the game against the Portland Trail Blazers on Nov. 2, Harris matched up against Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, one of the NBA’s best point guards. Despite Lillard’s efforts, he could not shake Harris and ended up throwing a pass out of bounds, which the Sixers capitalized on the next time down the court. If Harris can continue to make big stops like that in tight games, the Sixers’ defense could become better than advertised.

He is also showcasing his all-around offensive game again this season. According to, he currently sits in the 80th percentile among pick-and-roll ball handlers. He also is shooting 73 percent at the rim, and holds a true shooting percentage of 62 percent. He has a higher player impact estimate than All-Stars Ben Simmons, Kemba Walker and Russell Westbrook. Overall, he boasts more efficient and effective numbers than last season with a lower usage percentage.

Likewise, Harris has stepped up big time in the two games Joel Embiid has missed thus far. In the games without Embiid, Harris tallied 29, 23, and 24 points, on 60 percent shooting. In Portland, Harris was trusted with the ball in crunch time. He drove to the hoop and passed it to an open Ben Simmons under the basket, who was fouled and made both free throws. While passing it to Simmons specifically might not have been the safest choice giving his poor free throw shooting, Harris’ decision to dump it off to an open teammate under the basket was the right one.

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Harris’ performance thus far cannot be understated. Although he isn’t the flashiest nor the most disruptive player on the court, he is one of the most impactful and a large reason why the Sixers are 5-1.