Philadelphia 76ers: Tobias Harris is obviously the Sixers’ third-best player

(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Through the first two months of the 2019-20 NBA season, Tobias Harris has clearly been the Philadelphia 76ers’ third-best player – despite what some would have you believe.

Tobias Harris is the third-best player on the Philadelphia 76ers; that’s more or less an accepted fact, even if some personally prefer Josh Richardson, Matisse Thybulle, Mike Scott, or Al Horford (I guess).

However, if you listen to fans and pundits alike with only a cursory knowledge of the Sixers, you’d think Elton Brand wasted two picks, Landry Shamet, and $180 million on a glorified bum who can’t shoot, can’t play defense, and can’t even figure out what position he plays.

The only problem is that slander isn’t true.

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Now in the NBA, points alone don’t necessarily equate to dollars earned, as Horford will in all likelihood finish out the season behind Richardson in points scored despite making $18 million more a season. But they do matter, and as things presently stand, Harris ranks second on the team in points per game – behind only Joel Embiid.

Again, it’s hard to say Harris is a better player than Ben Simmons straight up, as the latter averages 5.5 more assists, .4 more rebounds, and 1.3 more steals per game, but 19.8 points per game on 49.2 percent shooting from the field is nothing to shake a stick at.

Maybe it’s because of that ugly stretch where he missed 23 straight 3 point attempts back in November, but for whatever reason, there is a belief that Harris is a streaky shooter to put it kindly.

But again, that isn’t true.

A career 51.4, 36.1, and 82 percent shooter from the field, beyond the arc, and the line respectfully, Harris is on track to outplay his 2018-19 averages, even if you’d still like to see the return of the outside efficiency that inspired Brand to pull the trigger on a trade in the first place.

Believe you me, if Harris knocked down just .5 more 3 pointers a game, fans would laud him as a godsend – that’s how little the difference is between 34.7 and 45.6 percent.

Look, it must be hard to be Tobias Harris.

After spending the first nine years of his professional career bouncing around the league on teams varying from bad-ish to good-ish, he is now the third max player on a championship contender that has slightly underperformed in 2019. While Embiid and Simmons do receive their fair share of criticism for how things have gone so far, most external rebukes relate to the on (and off) court fit between the two young superstars. Harris, on the other hand, has been rebuked for everything from his lack of aggressiveness to his lack of ability.

Next. All I want for Christmas is J.J. Redick. dark

Are some of those critiques warranted? To varying degrees, but every player has flaws – I mean did you see LeBron James on Christmas? Yikes. For better or worse, Tobias Harris has been who Elton Brand thought he was when he offered the 6-foot-8 combo forward a max deal: A do-it-all shooter who can not only be the third-best player on the Philadelphia 76ers, but the third-best player on a championship team.