The untradable Harris: A similar comparison
The fact that Tobias has never made an All-Star game is beginning to haunt him and affect how he is perceived. No one remembers how close he was or how the team he has on affected the voting. Last season is a good example.
On the Golden State Warriors, all of the narratives was about how Andrew Wiggins reinvented himself to become the fourth All-Star on the Warriors. However, if you look at all of the numbers and look at Wiggins’ improved defense, he looks remarkably like the exact same player as Tobias Harris. The biggest difference was that the media followed the Warriors and built up the Wiggins storyline.
The fact is, Harris is a top-10 power forward in this league and any trade would need to fill the enormous gap that losing a player of that caliber would create. There simply aren’t that many deals like that out there that make sense for both teams, making a Harris trade extremely difficult.
Don’t agree that Harris is top-10? The Sixer Sense’ Chris Kline recently wrote a story listing his opinions of the top power forwards in the league and had Harris 15, right in the middle. Opinions vary on such matters, and I would like to refute several of the names above him on Kline’s list. Let’s look at some of the best 4’s in the game.
- OG Anunoby, at 14th on Kline’s list, is a nice player but his numbers are the same as Harris’ (with admittedly better defense), he has averaged 45.5 games played over the last two years, and most importantly, he doesn’t play the four, he plays the three.
- Dorian Finney-Smith came in at 13th because he is a better 3-and-D guy than Harris, but he doesn’t do anything else on offense and is a much worse rebounder and passer than Harris, so give me The 76ers’ power forward all day.
- Jerami Grant is 12th on that list and is a better individual defender than Harris, but that is literally the only area where Harris isn’t better. If Harris was bad on defense this might be something, but he’s worked hard to become an above-average defender who can switch onto bigger and smaller players, so Grant doesn’t do anything for me. Harris is a better shooter from everywhere on the court, a better passer and ballhandler, and a far superior rebounder.
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- Miles Bridges is 11th, who we discussed so no need to rehash that point.
- Al Horford is ninth, who is strictly a “system” player at this stage of his career and clearly below Harris in any power forward discussions. Numbers don’t do Horford justice and he’s a better defender than Harris, but the Celtics do a great job of keeping Big Al in a box and limiting what he has to do on both sides. As Sixers fans, we have all seen how poorly it goes when Horford is asked to play too much on the perimeter. In a seven-game series, Horford can still dig deep, but for 100 games, Harris is vastly superior.
- Jaren Jackson Jr. at sixth and is the most interesting player on Kline’s list. Jackson Jr. can change the game by himself on defense for stretches, but his offensive skills leave much to be desired. Almost seven feet tall with a seven-five wingspan, you would expect him to block shots. However, his freakish quickness and athleticism gives him the ability to help and cover ground in ways that seem Thybulle-esque, and yet that athleticism doesn’t show up anywhere else. He takes almost 40 percent of his shots from deep, where he is a terrible shooter, has no inside game, and for an athletic giant, he seems oddly adverse to rebounding. Again, I would prefer Harris but this is a more interesting argument.
I just gave reasons why I believe six of the players listed ahead of him at the power forward spot should be below him, so even if you disagree with me on one or two of them, he still lands in the vicinity of the top-10, and he would be ninth on my personal list.
Being good at something makes you valuable, but quantifying that value can be tricky. The “trade Harris” group would say that the team is better without him, but that is impossible to say without factoring in whoever they got for him.