It has been an interesting tenure for Tobias Harris as a member of the Philadelphia 76ers. That is saying the absolute least. For the most part, Harris has been overly scrutinized and that is, for one thing, his max contract. A five year, $180 million eyesore of a contract in the eyes of a vast group of the Sixers fanbase, as well as being looked at poorly from around other NBA teams’ front offices.
Now to zoom out, that conclusion is correct. However, Harris has been through an incredibly turbulent time with the Sixers.
- Being traded for to form one of the most talented starting fives of all time on paper.
- Getting the max deal because he had the Sixers bent over a barrel
- The Al Horford experiment.
- The Ben Simmons debacle.
- Harris’ ball stopping Carmelo Anthony impressionist ways.
- His disapproval of Philly fans booing him for inconsistent play.
This is why his recently inspired play and seamlessly fitting next to Joel Embiid and James Harden deserves appreciation.
Tobias Harris has finally realized his potential with the Philadelphia 76ers
Tobias Harris’ best season was under Doc Rivers in 2018-19 with the Los Angeles Clippers. The team for which Harris was attacking downhill, pressuring the rim, making quick decisions, and weaponizing his quick trigger 3-point shot.
That same Tobias Harris would only appear for small cups of coffee in his Sixers career before the trade deadline. Better yet, just shots of espresso minus the quick thinking. Now, in his fourth playoff run with the Philadelphia 76ers, Harris was arguably the most consistent player on the team.
There would be some remission on my part if the defense of Harris was not emphasized. Harris has really just tapped into a completely different competitive level on the defensive end from the first game of the first round of the Toronto Raptors up through the second round against the Miami Heat.
Harris turned up his defense to a new level against the Raptors to the point where he was a legitimate defender of the point guard position and the center position. He was a very useful tool for a team that was devoid of solid defense besides Joel Embiid. Matisse Thybulle was absent in Toronto in the series and can be hit or miss. So it was very nice to know that Tobias Harris could be a dog defensively.
Harris had many moments in the Raptors series where he kept Pascal Siakam in front of him, forced bad shots, turnovers, and forced him to pass the ball. Harris did the same to Gary Trent Jr. The emotion and fire that Harris played with was refreshing. That is a big part of defense along with effort. The results were there on the court in terms of his effectiveness for a playoff team.
The appreciation that I’m coming with for Tobias Harris is more from the eye test and with a future mindset than his statistics. Like stated above, the effort and passion was great to see. That is something that is needed out of a veteran player that made $35.5 million in the 2021-22 season.
Looking at his numbers, Harris hovers around 18 points per game, shooting 48 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3-point land, and seven rebounds per game. It was the decisiveness he played with that fans were basically pleading to see out of him.
That may sound like a backhanded compliment but it’s really not. It was just nice to get the same Tobias Harris that the Sixers traded for in 2019. That first half of the season with the LA Clippers.
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Harris performing the way he did after the James Harden trade possibly could affect the Sixers for moving his contract elsewhere. Sacramento? Portland? Chicago? I’m just naming the same teams that the Sixers are always in trade rumor talks with.
It isn’t Harris’ fault for seizing the only opportunity he would have had at receiving a max contract most likely in his career. That is on the Sixers. It will always be on them and we can’t knock him for getting his money.
Any people watching should appreciate Tobias Harris for at least being the best version of a player that he could be. The Sixers fans need to appreciate Tobias Harris before his contract runs out or he helps the team acquire something that they were lacking.
Either way, the postseason showed everyone the highest level of Tobias Harris and that he can get there. With the constant complaining of how he’s overpaid now needs to be balanced out with the praise of him reaching his ceiling in his role with the Philadelphia 76ers.