This past summer, the Sixers invested in a forward coming off a career year split between them, and the Clippers. Back in July, the Philadelphia 76ers gave Tobias Harris the fifth-largest contract in NBA history. His five-year, $180 million deal extension keeps him under team control through 2024, with no player option.
Harris has never made an all-star game, yet earns a contract mixed with the likings of Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook, and Damian Lillard. With all of the expectations around it and his lack of production early, Harris certainly was hearing it from fans.
It’s no secret that Tobi had a really tough start to the month of November. For the guy who Coach Brown referred to as “the next JJ Redick,” Harris was far from lackluster beyond the arc. During a five-game stretch, Harris wound up going 0-23 on three-point attempts.
Every player has their cold stretches though. Before that rough patch, Harris was shooting 32% from deep, while averaging 20 points and nine rebounds a game. However, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. As soon as those mental lapses happen, fans are quick to refer to the amount a player is paid. Tobias only used it to motivate him.
After that tough stretch, Harris has been hot for the Sixers. After making the three-pointer to break that streak on November 15th against the Thunder, Tobi has been the clear leader for the 76ers. He has shot well over his career average from beyond the arc, with a 42% success rate from deep. During this stretch, he also averages 21.5 points, 5.8 boards, and 2.8 assists.
It’s completely justified to think that Tobias’ contract is just bad. For a guy who’s making Steph Curry or Damian Lillard money, it’s easy to expect him to take over games.
In the month of December, he has quietly been doing just that. Within the four games so far, Harris has led the team in scoring in three of them. In the loss to the Wizards this past week, Harris put up an easy 33 points en route to making a comeback. In the matchup against the Raptors Sunday night, Tobi shot 4-8 from deep to lead him to his 26 points, which helped the Sixers maintain the gap and close out the victory. To open that game up, Harris scored 11 of the Sixers’ first 14 points as well.
Off the Court
Tobias Harris is a natural-born leader. When signing his contract, he took a small discount to provide the Sixers with more cap space. In a locker room that seems to be picking up chemistry each day, Tobi fits right in. As he may not be as vocal in media interviews as Joel Embiid, Harris leads the rookies by example.
Matisse Thybulle addressed this after Sunday’s win over the Raptors:
“Aside from being an amazing example, he’s just been like a big brother.” “We sit next to each other on every flight and he’s constantly giving me advice. I seek him for all my questions — whether it’s financially, on the court, off the court, I go to him. He’s done it at a very high level for a while now, and I really look up to him in that sense. He’s been able to be a huge role model for me.”
Tobias Harris is the only Sixers’ starter to play in every game so far this season. When committing to a player, it is important to evaluate not only performance but availability and leadership as well. He sets an example for the locker room and just plays the game he loves. On a team where there are five players who can put up 20 points a night, Tobias does not need to score 30 to 40 points to assert his dominance. A lot of fans do not recognize the little things both on and off the court Tobias does, however, Tobi is the ultimate teammate, which is earning him that contract.
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports