Philadelphia 76ers: Tobias Harris has been great (almost) all season

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

Tobias Harris had a monster game in the Philadelphia 76ers’ 117-106 win over the Brooklyn Nets, but don’t be too surprised; he’s been great (almost) all season.

Is there a more hotly debated player on the Philadelphia 76ers‘ roster than Tobias Harris?

Alright, sure, Ben Simmons is totally numero uno by any estimation, but Harris has to be the clear-cut number two, right?

I mean, he’s the Sixers’ other, other max contract player and was pitched to fans as a perfect complement to Simmons and Joel Embiid on the wings.

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But as unfair as it may be, Harris’ first full season in the City of Brotherly Love did not come without a ton of baggage.

I mean no matter how well Harris plays, he will always be the guy Elton Brand chose to extend over Jimmy Butler, a decision that looks worse and worse as his new team, the Miami Heat, continue to dominate the Sixers in the Eastern Conference playoff standings.

Fair? No, Harris and Butler don’t even play the same brand of basketball, but every time the team’s $180 million man is unable to score a contested two late in the shot clock, or worse, he misses a contested 3, a small but passionate swash of the fan base will curse the day Jimmy Buckets forced a trade to South Beach

But here’s the thing, Harris is actually having a pretty great season if you exclude one unfortunate stretch back in early November.

You see, as things presently stand, Harris is averaging a (near) career-high 19.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 34.1 minutes of action a night on 48.7-35.9-78.9 shooting from the field, beyond the arc, and line respectfully. Those numbers are good enough to wedge Harris into the All-Star conversation, even if his actual prospects are dicey at best.

And if you exclude that ugly 0-23 stretch from Harris’ stats, his impressive play becomes a whole lot harder to dispute.

Since the Sixers’ November 15th loss to the OKC Thunder, Harris has been pretty lights out, averaging 20.7 points and 6.2 rebounds in the same 31 minutes of action. Those numbers rank 11th and 23rd in the Eastern Conference respectfully and place Harris among the ranks of the best players this season this side of the Mississippi River.

He’s also shooting 40.9 percent from beyond the arc on 4.8 attempts a game, good for the fourth-highest marks on Sixers behind lower volume shooters like Trey Burke, Matisse Thybulle, and Raul Neto.

Harris may never become a full-on playmaker or fill Butler’s role as a fourth-quarter primary ball-handler who can go shot for shot with any player in the league, but he can shoot, he can score, and he can help the 76ers win games.

Need proof? Look no further than the Sixers’ massive win over the Brooklyn Nets in their third game back with Kyrie Irving since fittingly enough November 15th.

Despite scoring a respectable 10 points in the first half, Harris exploded for 24 after halftime in a rare start at power forward. Without Harris, the Sixers don’t win the game. Heck, without Harris, the Sixers don’t have a 19-2 record at home this season.

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So the next time someone tells you investing $180 million on a headband loving Carmelo Anthony clone was a mistake, pay it no mind. For the Philadelphia 76ers to win and win big in 2020, they need more Tobias Harris, not less. They also need a small-ball point guard, but at this point, I’ll take what I can get.