For fans, Tobias Harris was supposed to be a great player for the Sixers this year, a true number two option to take the weight off of Joel Embiid’s shoulders. After his All-Star snub last year, many were excited for Harris to get a bigger role and with Ben Simmons going MIA, Tobias Harris seemed poised for a potential All-Star selection. However, after a hot start to the season, Tobias was playing unsure and slow. His stats from October 19th, 2021 (The start of the season) to December 31st, 2021 (The end of the year) were disappointing. He was averaging 18.5 points, 7.7 rebounds, and 3.8 assists on 45.2% shooting from the field and 29.6% from three.
During his extended slump, Sixers fans were calling for him to be traded more than they were for Ben Simmons. Fans were citing his lack of decisiveness or his low three-point volume and percentages. Fans were actively booing Harris during bad games (which is fair), and it seemed like the relationship could be taking a turn for the worse. At the worst, Tobias Harris hit a fadeaway shot against the Houston Rockets and told the fans not to clap.
Harris has been in and out of trade talks all seasons long. His lack of fit next to Embiid and his high salary have been easy avenues for all armchair GMs and Trade Machine Enthusiasts to go about matching salaries to improve the Sixers. Yet, with his low performance and massive contract, his value fell through the floor.
That was the old Tobias Harris. Clearly, Tobias Harris said, “New Year, New Me” when January 1st, 2022 came around because his stats have improved in nearly every facet of the game since the new year. In 12 games in 2022, Tobias Harris is averaging similar counting stats but at a much more efficient rate.
Tobias Harris is averaging 18.9 points per game in 2022, along with 7.1 rebounds and 3.8 assists. However, his real growth came in the efficiency department, as he is now shooting 50.6% from the field and 41.0% from deep. Tobias Harris is now hitting more threes per game in 2022 than in 2021 on a lower volume, demonstrating a more decisive approach to each game.
This was never more clear than in his season-high 33 point explosion against the New Orleans Pelicans on January 25th. In 39 minutes, Tobias shot 13 of 19 and 3 of 3 from deep. Tobias also contributed 11 rebounds in the game, 2 blocks in the game, and 2 assists in the game. This was a return of the Tobias Harris we know he can be.
Whether his higher play results in sustained results, or if it turns out to just be a way to raise his trade value from the dead, Tobias Harris has been playing much better in 2022 than in 2021. His decisiveness and shot selection over the course of January has been fantastic, and his ability as a scorer has been on full display over the last month. The hope is that Tobias will recapture last season’s mojo and continue showing both the Sixers and possible suitors what he can do.