Despite the slow start to the year, there are many things the Philadelphia 76ers have to be thankful for this season. Joel Embiid has returned to his MVP self and was instrumental in turning things around before missing the last two games. James Harden also seems to have more pop in his game after an off-season packed with conditioning and rehab but is recovering from his sprained tendon. Tyrese Maxey seems to have taken his game to a new level in his third season before his foot injury. De’Anthony Melton has also captured the hearts of fans and exceeded expectations after joining Philadelphia this offseason.
However, Bleacher Report’s Grant Hughes took a different view when writing about the one thing every NBA team should be grateful for. Confirming Tobias Harris’ recent play, he explained:
After a slow start to the season overall, the Sixers’ injury streak puts them in a difficult position. They currently sit at 9-9 and are tied for 7th place in the Eastern Conference. While it could be worse given the circumstances, Philadelphia must be careful not to let its record slip further while its main stars are out. There’s still a long way to go in the season, but having your back against the wall before they even make the All-Star break would be less than ideal.
Harris has answered that call so far and has been vital for the team to stay afloat. After its role was minimized from what it has traditionally played, the Tennessee product has returned to the spotlight. That performance against the Nets was the highlight of the season, during which he had a season-high 24 points alongside six rebounds and three assists.
In the past two games without Embiid, Harden and Maxey, Harris has attempted over 20 shots in each game. This is the only time of the entire season that this has been the case. He also saw his usage rate increase from 19.6% in the season to 27.7% in the last two matchups.
Throughout the season, Harris averages 15.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.7 assists. That scoring performance is the lowest he has had since the 2015-16 season when he was with the Orlando Magic. It should be noted that this is a product of Harris’ role within the Sixers’ offense and is not due to his retiring.
The 11-year veteran made some necessary adjustments to his game to accommodate the team’s needs. He’s attempting 5.3 three-point attempts per game so far this season, which is the most he’s had in his entire tenure with the Sixers. Harris has taken an offball role on the offensive end and taken on additional defensive duties to meet the needs of the Sixers.
It will be interesting to see how Harris’ role changes as the Sixers begin to heal. For now, he will be vital to the team’s success and will prove that in two consecutive encounters. Often rushed because of his valuable contract, Harris was an ideal teammate and one of the stable points of the franchise. Even amid the trade rumors, Philadelphia will need the production he brings both in the short term and for as long as he remains a member of the Sixers.