Tobias Harris is embarking on his 12th season in the NBA in a situation that’s slightly unfamiliar for him. In the past, he’s been called upon to be a featured scorer with the ball in his hands. Now, he looks to embrace a 3-and-D role with the Sixers, playing off the ball and being a key floor spacer alongside cornerstones James Harden and Joel Embiid.
Last season, the Sixers implemented a massive talent in Harden in the middle of the year. This is no easy task, let alone doing it in the middle of a season. While the majority of the roster quickly adapted to Harden’s play, Harris struggled immediately initially, averaging a very modest 11.8 points on 39.1 percent shooting in their first six games together.
Harris eventually had a breakthrough after that stretch of games against the Brooklyn Nets, where he attempted five threes, making four of them. He finished the remaining games of the regular season with stellar efficiency: 15.5 points, 50.8 percent shooting and 44.4 percent on 5.1 attempts from three per game. His strong finish wasn’t a fluke either, as he went on to have the best postseason run of his career — shooting a career-high from three, and often being tasked with guarding the best offensive player on the opposing team.
Harris now looks to build on his late season success. He touched on how big of an adjustment his role change was on the Sixers media day Monday:
“It was an adjustment for me because it was the first time in my career that I’ve been in those positions as a catch-and-shoot player off the ball. But after a couple of games and once I made a few adjustments shooting wise, and with the preparation, it all came together for me. I was able to have some very good games all throughout after the All-Star break. I do look to follow [those games] up this season.”
The postseason featured some of the best play we’ve ever seen from Harris at any point in his career. He wasn’t a featured scorer like in year’s past, but he willingly let the ball fly and held his own defensively against some of the NBA’s best talent in Pascal Siakam and Jimmy Butler.
An offseason focusing on his newfound role combined with some built team chemistry should help Harris even more. He went on to touch on some key areas he’s been working on this summer:
“In reality I just got to the drawing board and figured out ways to increase that three-point percentage where after the All Star Break it was up over 40 percent. So, you know, just really going into the offseason, figure out ways to kind of follow up from that. The biggest adjustment was letting it fly and not worrying about the result, but shooting it quicker and shooting from different spots and letting it go.
So I do look to let them go even more this year in different situations on the floor. I just think it opens up the floor for everyone else. If I’m in those positions to receive the basketball, I have to let it go to space the floor the best way for the group.
The basic stats show Harris is a capable shooter, but his shot selection and volume have been under question in the past. Harris and the Sixers’ offense will greatly benefit if he increases the volume and fires away with little-to-no hesitation.
Harris refining his jumpshot is an interesting tidbit that probably flew under the radar for most. We haven’t seen much of his offseason workouts online, but it’s clear that this has been an area of emphasis for his offseason work:
When the decision is made to shoot, it is critical that we evaluate “time to release”— BBiomechanics (@BBiomechanics) August 28, 2022
Depicted is a .3 speed of movement out of the pivot complex
This is often a limiting factor never addressed or explored @tobias31 @bballbreakdown @TommyTempesta pic.twitter.com/yYxvPgwSZn
While Tobias’ role has drastically changed since his arrival, these newfound adjustments and offseason additions should do wonders for him and his game. Last season’s postseason featured the best version of Harris we’ve seen yet. While he wasn’t a featured part in their offense he was averaging nearly 17 points a game on high efficiency, rebounding well, and playing crucial defense.
Harden has a history of elevating the players around him, and if last year’s finish is an indication of anything, it’ll showcase the best Tobias Harris we’ve seen yet.