Sixers: Player Grades for every player at the All-Star break

Tobias Harris, James Harden, Joel Embiid, P.J. Tucker, Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
Tobias Harris, James Harden, Joel Embiid, P.J. Tucker, Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /
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Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Alonzo Adams-USA TODAY Sports /

TOBIAS HARRIS. C+. . PF. 76ers

Written by: Matt Cahill

Tobias Harris has been the subject of many watercooler arguments here in Philadelphia ever since signing his Max contract three years ago. Whether he deserves the big money can be debated, but what cannot be argued is that Tobias is a very talented player who is capable of playing like an All-Star for long stretches.

Theoretically, he looks like the ideal forward to pair next to Joel Embiid, as a shooter, rebounder and improving defender. The problem is the maddening, inexplicable stretches when he disappears and does nothing. For example, on New Year’s Day, I would have given Tobias a B+ grade for his play this season. He was doing all of the things that Sixers fans have been waiting for and finally seemed to be putting it all together as a consistent contributor and 3rd or 4th scorer.

Harris was defending well more often than not, taking and making more catch-and-shoot jumpers without hesitating, driving when the opportunity arose, and taking advantage of whatever the defense gave him. He has always been a guy who disappears for a quarter, half, or game here and there, but there were fewer of those games. He even stepped up his play when James Harden and Joel were out with injuries, something he has failed to do in the past.

Contract or not, this looked like the version of Tobias Harris that everyone had always hoped we would see here, the perfect complimentary star. And then the calendar turned to 2023 and he fell right back off the map. Last season he averaged a respectable 17 points and almost 7 rebounds per game, but in the 19 games since January 1st this season he has averaged 13.4 points and 5.7 rebounds per game and his shooting has followed those numbers in decline.

Tobias has always been a guy who likes to know what his role is, so perhaps the returns of Joel, James, and Tyrese from injury have been confusing for him as players shuffle in and out of different roles. But whatever the cause, it is time for Tobias to snap out of this funk and return to being the player that we all were teased with back in November and December.

Like it or not, like him or not, the Sixers’ playoff fates may rest with what version of Tobias Harris we see. If he takes and makes quick threes, defends, and hits the boards this team will be a very tough out. If not, they will probably be golfing in May while the rest of us continue to argue about his contract.