Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris has a chance to prove his worth in the playoffs.
Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris has played for five different teams in his nine year career. Despite being an overall well-rounded player since 2012 (when he was traded to the Orlando Magic from the Milwaukee Bucks) Harris has been fairly overlooked by not only the NBA but the teams that acquire him. Harris has never spent more than three seasons with the same team, and it feels like he has always been looked at as a transitional piece.
For example, Harris was used in Los Angeles as a trade piece that ended up enabling the Clippers to acquire Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, despite Harris being one of the best players for that team in 2018. By trading Tobi to Philadelphia, the Clippers were able to clear cap space and stock draft capital. I’m sure Clippers fans aren’t upset with the results of the trade now, but neither should Sixers fans.
We’re going to skip past that heartbreaking shot by Leonard in Game Seven (which sent the Sixers home last year). Instead, we’ll start at the following offseason where the Sixers traded Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat for Josh Richardson. Sixers followed that by agreeing to a 5-year $180 million max contract extension with Harris, that many Sixers fans and analysts did not agree with. For Harris, I know this had to be huge for his confidence and self esteem to finally be appreciated by a franchise and have a stable home.
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Skip forward to present day and you have Ben Simmons missing the rest of the season due to knee surgery. What does this mean for Harris and the Sixers? This means it’s time for our fanbase in Philadelphia to start not only respecting Harris, but also trusting Harris.
I’ve heard many 76ers fans say, “You don’t pay that for a third option” and while they probably mean third best player, Harris has actually become the Sixers second best scoring option behind Embiid.
While Simmons is a great facilitator and defender, he can’t create his own shot and rarely shoots outside the paint. Harris is actually one of the few Sixers that can get his own looks and shoot consistently from beyond the arc.
Harris’ unique scoring ability is exactly what the Sixers need playing beside Joel Embiid, especially now that Simmons is likely out for the playoffs.
Let’s be real, the postseason was going to be tough regardless of injuries this season, and now that Simmons is gone, they just got even tougher. I believe that Harris can step up and become a consistent second option in the playoffs this year, and he certainly needs to in order for the Sixers to be successful. We all see how stagnant the Philly offense gets when Embiid leaves the game, and without Simmons, the Sixers will need to let Tobi be the focus of the offense.
Harris showed he’s ready to take that next step, as he has already stepped up his play during the NBA’s Orlando bubble. Since arriving to Disney World, Harris is averaging 22.2 points per game while shooting 45.3% from the field, and 38.7% from the three-point line. This is compared to 19.6 points per game while shooting 46.9% from the field, and 36.4% from the three-point line during regular season play from before the league shut down back in March.
Tobi showed during his time on the Clippers, where he was featured as the first and second scoring option at times, that he can handle the uptick in volume. It’s time to trust Harris just like we “Trusted the Process”, because he is going to step up and show us all why he is well worth the money. Cheers Sixers fans, the playoffs are here!