Tobias Harris is thriving under Doc Rivers just like fans hoped he would

NBA: MAR 01 76ers at Clippers
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)

When it was announced that longtime head coach Doc Rivers was set to assume the same position with the Sixers, one of the many players thought to thrive in his system was Sixers’ forward Tobias Harris. 

Notably, Harris and Rivers were formerly acquainted from their stint together in LA as members of the Clippers organization. Not only that, Harris enjoyed arguably the best stretch of his career under Rivers. 

Maneuvering through an offense that complemented his strengths, Harris averaged 20+ PPG in both half-season stints with the Clippers. The efficiency-friendly system implemented by Rivers being a big reason why.  

“I loved coaching him,” Rivers said of Harris shortly after his hire. “I like that he’s a multi-positional player, you know, he’s a big three [small forward]. He’s a quick four [power forward], that’s how we used him a lot in LA, we kept moving him back and forth to different spots.” 

Given the size and skillset of the talented former first-rounder, positional flexibility within an offense is just what the doctor ordered. Harris, 28, is capable of scoring from all over the court. The forward boasts one of the most comprehensive offensive repertoires at his position. 

Tobias Harris bounces back

For a player like Harris, Rivers’ system fits like a glove and that fluidity has been on full display through 25 games this season. So far this season, Harris is shooting a scorching-hot 52% from the floor and 42% from deep while averaging a career-high 20.7 PPG. Once again paired with Doc Rivers, Harris seems to have found his mojo and, more importantly, his shot. 

Following his 36-point outburst in Monday’s loss to Utah, Harris leads the entire league with games of 20+ points on 50%+ field goal shooting. His 13 such games are more than superstar scorers Kevin Durant (12), Bradley Beal (11), and Luka Doncic (10), to name a few. 

All year long Harris has been a handful for defenders and he seems to be getting better as the season progresses. 

“Doc is always on us to not get content, to be better than we were last game no matter who we’re playing against, “ Harris said of his head coach during their time in LA together. “Whether we’re playing against the reigning champions or the team with the worst record in the NBA.” 

If his on-court performance is to be the judge, Harris must have taken this advice to heart as he continues to perfect his craft and improve each day. His improvement has begun to garner national attention, as his all-star bid grows stronger by the game. 

Sixers’ Big Three of All Stars?

The orchestrator behind Harris’ masterful campaign, Rivers thinks that he, along with Simmons and Embiid, deserves all-star recognition. “All three should be in,” laughed coach Doc Rivers. “That would be my case. They’ve all played just unbelievable basketball for our team. We got a great record so if we keep winning, that’ll take care of itself. I’ll put it that way.” 

Harris, on the other hand, was a little less bullish about his chances. However though, he did express his desire to be recognized with the honor.

Well Deserved Self Praise

“Me for myself, I’ve always just been about winning and letting that handle itself, but I’ve been playing consistently at an All-Star level every now and then,” said Harris lightheartedly. “I want to always move on, but in the past, I’ve had a couple of times where I felt like I should have been there, and didn’t make it. So that would be my little pitch.”

Whether he ultimately cracks the all-star roster or not remains to be seen. But, there is no denying that he has certainly been playing like one for Philly. He stands as one of the primary reasons the team sits atop the Eastern Conference. Regardless if he gets praise, Harris is focused on helping the team win games. He knows that continued improvement is the bridge between where the team is and where they want to be. 

Sixers’ game winner

Following his game-winning bucket in a win over the reigning champion Lakers last month, Harris had this to say about the Sixers sky-high potential: 

“It was a great win for us against a great team,” Harris said after the game. “At the same time, we know we could be better. Where we’re expecting to go, and where we want to be, we have to be dang near perfect.” 

After a contest where Simmons recorded a triple-double, Embiid poured in nearly 30 points, and he himself scored 24, including the game-winning bucket, development was on the forefront of Harris’ mind. 

This refusal to settle or become complacent has already paid off tremendously for Harris. This may ultimately result in the championship glory he covets. Until then, though, we should all tune in as Harris takes center stage as one of the elite talents in the league.

Photo Credit: Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire