When Tobias Harris signed his 5-year, $180 million deal in the summer of 2019, it came with heightened expectations. Some expectations were fair, and some were unfair, but regardless of the pressure, Harris stayed consistent. Since the Philadelphia 76ers acquired Harris from the Clippers, he has played many different roles for this team. While he played with former Sixer Ben Simmons, he was counted on to help carry the scoring load. With the arrival of James Harden, Tobias Harris’ role has changed again.
James Harden’s arrival and Tyrese Maxey’s accession combined for the perfect storm to push Harris down the pecking order. He essentially went from the second option to the fourth option, initially struggling with his role change. Head Coach Doc Rivers mentioned multiple times that he had a conversation with Tobias about what he needed to do for the time with the new makeup of the roster.
Tobias Harris was asked to focus on becoming a stout defender and taking more catch-and-shoot opportunities. He initially struggled in this new role, but you started to see him make strides on defense first. Late in the season, he defended Darius Garland of the Cleveland Cavaliers for a good stretch and held his own. Harris was counted on to guard some of the opponent’s best players in the playoffs, including Pascal Siakam and Jimmy Butler.
Coming into this season, there were a lot of rumors about Harris not being happy with his newfound role and wanting to be included in the offense more. There have also been some trade rumors that included Harris’ name, but as the season has progressed, he has fully leaned into his role. Tobias Harris is shooting 40 percent from three-point range on just over five attempts per game. He has also been tasked to guard some of the better offensively players in the league along with PJ Tucker.
Matisse Thybulle recently called Tobias Harris a Swiss Army Knife, and he has displayed his versatility this season. Some criticism has been warranted surrounding Harris’ play, but there is not much more that can be asked of him. He’s been a mid-post player, the second option, the fourth option, the leading scorer, and a 3-and-D player this season. Harris has proved his value to the Sixers, and now they need him more than ever.