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Sixers Player Profile: Tobias Harris

The Goldfish spokesman had a strong season overall in 2020-21, despite his Game 5 dud against the Hawks.

2021 NBA Playoffs - Atlanta Hawks v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be profiling every player currently on the Sixers’ roster ahead of training camp, which begins on September 28.

Tobias Harris

Age: 29 (turns 30 on July 15)

Contract status: Third year of five-year, $180 million contract

Let’s start with the elephant in the room. Tobias Harris is the highest-paid Sixer for the upcoming season. At a hair under $36 million this year, does Tobi provide value commensurate with being the 14th-highest-paid player in the league? No. But does he do a lot of positive things to help a basketball team on the court? Yes. So if the Sixers didn’t want to let him walk away for nothing two years ago and be forced to roll the dice with unknown players in free agency on a slim amount of cap space, this deal was the one they had to make. Moving on...

The first season of the Doc Rivers-Tobias Harris reunion was largely a big success. Doc got the message across to Harris to act more decisively with the ball, and the result was Harris’ best-shooting season of his career (51.2 percent from the field), along with a career-high 3.5 assists per game. Tobias was put in a difficult position of having to carry bench lineups offensively, and also stepped up on many occasions as a late-game closer.

On the other end of the court, Harris made strides as a defender, helped by getting to play exclusively at power forward where he wasn’t forced to chase around quicker wings as often. The main criticism in Tobi’s game was his reluctance to hoist from the outside; while he shot an excellent 39.4 percent from behind the arc, his 3.4 3-point attempts were his lowest mark in five years. Still, Tobias was literally yelling that he was an All-Star last spring and Sixers fans had his back.

You wouldn’t know it based on the discourse, but Harris mostly had a good postseason as well. His points-per-game average bumped up from 19.5 during the regular season to 21.8, while sporting a strong .526 eFG%. Still, the end of the Atlanta series left an extremely bad taste in Sixers fans’ mouths. He went 2-of-11 from the field for just four points in the team’s historically dreadful Game 5 collapse, failing to score in the second half. Then, while he scored 24 points in the Game 7 season-ender, Harris shot just 8-of-24 from the field. It was an unsteady end to an excellent campaign overall for the veteran.

Season outlook: As with most things Sixers-related these days, Tobias’ outlook will be affected by how the Ben Simmons saga concludes. If the Sixers eventually receive a primary ball handler in return who will actually shoot the ball, much less of the late-game burden will fall on Harris’ shoulders. Still, with his ability to either handle the ball or spot up off it, Tobias is a guy who can fit in seamlessly alongside nearly anyone. He’s going to be out there for 30-35 minutes per night regardless. The two things I’d really like to see from Tobias this year are as follows: 1) maintain the defensive progress made last season, and 2) ratchet the 3-point attempts back up to the 5.0 mark he had during his first 1.5 years in Philadelphia. Other than that, Tobias is a terrific locker room presence, an ideal mentor for the young guys, and a stand-up man in the community. The contract is what it is. Try to embrace everything he brings to the table on the court, and don’t sweat the small hiccups along the way.