How About a Little Appreciation for Tobias Harris?

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)

Most conversations regarding Tobias Harris start and finish with his salary. This season, Harris will make right around $36 Million in the third year of his huge five-year, $180 million contract he signed before the 2019-20 season.

In hindsight, the contract may not be that bad as there are over forty players making at least $30 million per season. While you’d expect names like James, Curry, Harden, Durant, and the like to be up there in salary, there are others like Kevin Love, Gordon Hayward, Kristaps Pozingis, and the perpetually injured John Wall, all making over $30 Million. Hell, Andrew Wiggins is making a few dollars under thirty million this year, and he’s been widely considered a bust-up until last season.

Last year, Harris flirted with the 50/40/90 line for scorers. As he averaged just under twenty points per game, Harris’ shooting, from wherever he was on the floor, was what made him special. To go along with almost seven rebounds and just under four assists per game, Harris was a more complete player than he’s ever been. (He also averaged around a steal and a block per game.)

This year, Harris, while not having to be put in the position of making up for Ben Simmons’ lack of offense and really playing the third option, perfectly. He’s off to another great start, and while his three-point shooting is lower, it’s still early in the season, and if history is correct, he’ll have it hovering right around forty percent.

Joel Embiid has been playing well, despite being injured, and Seth Curry is shooting a ridiculous 63% on his three-pointers. Having Curry as well as Danny Green has allowed Harris to move to a more comfortable position at power forward.

While he’s played there, he was used a lot as a spot-up shooter but bringing in Green and Curry has opened Harris to use his best attribute. His mid-range shooting is where he’ll earn that money this year, as he did last year.
Not having to sit around the three-point line and wait for shots, Harris Is able to either muscle his way around smaller, small forwards or use his athleticism to out-maneuver larger power forwards.

Danny Green as the small forward, with his defensive abilities and three-point shooting, put Harris in a perfect position to succeed, and while he had some hiccups, as most players do, he thrived in the offense last year and is off to a better start to this season.

His stats, across the board, have improved in the early part of this season. IF he continues, as last year, where 49% of his shots were mid-range, he’ll continue to see success and keep dropping a consistent twenty points per game. He’s improved his defense, has a good basketball IQ and is now finally in the position to succeed as the Head Coach is playing Harris to his strengths.

With the impending return of Ben Simmons, they’re going to need Harris to continually contribute in the mid-range and hope that Simmons can actually take some jump shots.
Knocking Harris for his contract is ridiculous because no one will turn down large amounts of money to do their job. If anything, the Sixers and their management, or lack thereof, were responsible for starting the storm that’s hovered over him the past three years.

What Tobias Harris has brought to the team since he arrived is consistency. He’s given the team almost twenty points per game since his arrival. He’s added quality rebounding, passing, and defense as well. After seeing what the team has been able to do without Simmons to start the season, it’s hard to imagine Harris falling.

Maybe it’s time to stop focusing on Harris’ money and start focusing on what the guy has brought and continues to bring to the team. Harris provides a consistent quality power forward who happens to shoot better than most people, provides solid defense, and is the consummate teammate.