Could Doc Rivers Cure Tobias Harris?

LOS ANGELES, CA – MARCH 01: Philadelphia 76ers Forward Tobias Harris (12) give his teammates a thumbs up during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Clippers on March 1, 2020 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)

The Sixers have officially hired Doc Rivers as their head coach as they head into a new era of Sixers basketball. While upgrading the roster and finding a system that will help Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid to flourish is undoubtedly the most important factor, an underrated storyline is Rivers having the potential to take Tobias Harris to the next level.

Tobias Harris played for the Clippers under Doc Rivers for a total of 87 games throughout the course of two seasons. Harris was traded from the Pistons to the Clippers in the 2018 season in the deal that sent Blake Griffin away. This season was arguably Rivers’ most impressive coaching performance as he took an undermanned Clippers team to a 48-34 record and into the playoffs. Led by Tobias Harris, Danilo Gallinari, and Lou Williams the team managed to win two games in the first round (against the eventual champion Golden State Warriors) before being sent home.

Throughout the course of his time under Rivers, Tobias recorded a career-high 20.3 points per game along with 7.2 rebounds while shooting the ball 42.6% from three. Rivers still speaks very highly of Harris and has called him “a really good guy to have on your team and in your organization,” and also said how Tobi is a “very easy guy to coach.” Harris looked to be a budding star under Rivers’ wing and he played with a comfortability that has yet to be seen in Philadelphia.

Rivers primarily used Harris in the pick and roll which proved to be effective for him and the team. Doc Rivers has been known to incorporate the P+R in his offense fairly heavily throughout his coaching career and this proved true in Los Angeles. Harris posted 27% of his usage in the pick and roll and scored in the 86th percentile in that category. Tobias also looked extremely comfortable posting up on the offensive end and primarily played power forward. He was boxed out of that position with the Sixers largely due to the addition of Al Horford.

Tobias Harris inked a five year $180 million deal last offseason making him the highest-paid player in Sixers history. While he has grown in major ways as a leader on the team and still proved to have a decent season, Tobias has yet to live up to that contract. Given the gymnastics it would take to dance around the salary cap along with the bad PR look it would be to deal him, it is likely Harris is here to stay. Maximizing his talent would be a major move in the right direction for the Sixers and having him develop into a true third option on the team would go along way in the team’s success. Doc Rivers has brought out the best in him before and a reunion could prove to have the same results.

Mandatory Credit – Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire