On Thursday, July 15th, news broke that Bradley Beal was officially pulling out of Team USA basketball after entering Health and Safety protocol alongside former Philadelphia 76ers forward Jerami Grant.
Now, to be fair, it’s not like Beal’s presence on the team will be particularly missed. Despite their talent, Team USA has been downright horrid through their first few games of exhibition play, but Beal’s absence does leave a spot available for someone, anyone, to come in, put in some work, and maybe, just maybe actually get this haphazardly assembled collection of NBA All-Stars back on track.
While we won’t know for at least a little bit if Harris actually accepts the offer, as he’s currently on vacation to celebrate his 29th birthday, personally, I can’t see a single downside to getting the Sixers’ third star on a roster with some of the best players in the world as he prepares to presumably take on a more expansive role in 2021-22.
A summer on Team USA could help Tobias Harris and the Philadelphia 76ers.
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Tobias Harris has been in the NBA for a very, very long time.
Initially drafted with the 19th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Harris has played for five different teams over the last decade and has appeared in 712 games between the regular season and the playoffs. Harris has been a number one option on a few good teams, a number three or even four option on a few even better teams, and even rode the bench for a good position of his rookie season with the Orlando Magic.
Fun fact: The pick used to select Harris was initially traded to the Trail Blazers from the then-New Orleans Hornets for his future Jerryd Bayless. Harris was also eventually traded from Orlando to Milwaukee in a package for J.J. Redick and Ish Smith and then traded from Orlando to Detroit for a package centered around Ersan Ilyasova. Harris’ transaction history is absolutely loaded with former Philadelphia 76ers.
Since arriving in South Philly, Harris has established himself as a borderline All-Star capable of racking up 19.3 points and seven rebounds a game as the Sixers’ top offensive option behind Joel Embiid. His defensive game has stepped up noticeably versus his early-career efforts, and even as his 3 point attempts have dipped with each passing season, his efficiency numbers have been steadily on the rise.
With Simmons’ future very much up in the air, Harris’ role could be augmented yet again, maybe for the better but maybe for the worse, depending on how a potential package is composed.
So, with an opportunity to play alongside everyone from Damian Lillard to Kevin Durant, Kevin Love, and even Jerami Grant, depending on his status, joining Team USA could afford Harris an opportunity to take his new game out onto the road and test drive it in a new scheme, maybe even alongside a future teammate? It’s worked wonders for Matisse Thybulle so far this summer, as his Australian Boomers were able to notch a win against Team USA earlier this month.
In the grand scheme of things, whether Tobias Harris plays for Team USA this summer really doesn’t make much of a difference to the Philadelphia 76ers’ fates in 2021-22. Philly doesn’t get any added bonus for having a player on the team, and if anything, the risk of injury may be enough to give some front office execs pause. But imagine how sweet it would be to see Harris take the court and actually dominate his foes a la Patty Mills on Team Australia? Could you think of a better way to ride momentum high into the forthcoming season? I can’t.