When the ceiling of the Sixers is discussed, it feels as if the conversation always falls on the shoulders of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. However, as this team continues to form its identity, it is time for another guy to join the two Process-products as one of the faces of the organization. There should no longer any “buts” or “half-truths” when discussing his role on the team- Tobias Harris is the 3rd star the team needs.
Arrival in Philly
For the most part, the criticism of Tobias Harris has always been due to the price tag he carries and not his actual on-court performance. The Sixers traded for Tobias Harris midway through the 2018-19 season to join the Jimmy Butler-led team as they went “all-in” for a championship. In order to attain the 6’9 player out of Tennessee, the Sixers shipped off Wilson Chandler, Mike Muscala, Landry Shamet, two first and two second-round picks.
After averaging 18.2 points, 7.9 rebounds, and shooting just 32.6% from beyond the arc in just 27 games with the Sixers, Harris was given a 5 year $180 million deal to remain with the team. This deal increases in cap hit each year with him taking up just over $34 million of cap room this season and will increase to just over $39 million in his final year. With Jimmy Butler walking at the end of the season, it was essential to bring back Tobi even if the price tag may have been considered an overpay by some.
Tobias Harris breaks out
Doc Rivers might as well be known as the “Tobias Harris whisperer.” So far this season Harris has looked the most decisive with the ball since he has gotten to Philly. Largely as a result of this, Tobi is averaging 20.3 points per game, 7 rebounds per game, and a career-high 1 block per game. He also is currently shooting 46.4% from the 3-point range which ranks 10th in the NBA. The only time his scoring numbers were ever higher was under Doc Rivers with the Clippers.
So far this season the trio of Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid, and Ben Simmons have combined for 61.9 points per game. This is responsible for 54.3% of the team’s points which gives them a firm case for being a top-notch “big-3” in the NBA. Joel Embiid has rightfully been flooded with praise due to the MVP caliber season he is having, but Harris should not be slept on for the production he has brought to the team.
Tobias Harris has also fit right in with the defensive identity of this team. He showcased this ability in the recent Lakers game where he willingly matched up with Anthony Davis. The power forward recently talked about his work on defense saying it is the “end of the floor I’ve worked on and will continue to get better at.” Tobias credits his time spent watching film in preparation for the leap that has occurred in his defensive ability this year.
In addition to the leadership that he has brought off the court, Tobias Harris’s quiet and consistent production has gone a long way in helping this team. The 3rd star that the team has been in search of so far may have been on the roster all along. As Harris put it himself, “I’ve been playing consistently at an all-star level every night.” This Sixers team needs Tobias Harris and it is time he is appreciated as such.