When Doc Rivers inked a deal to become the next head coach of the Philadelphia 76ers, he gave Philly several reasons to be excited. While his championship experience and well-respected leadership were what everybody focused on, one of the most underrated factors of the Rivers hiring was the impact he could have on Tobias Harris.
A couple of years ago, the Sixers traded with the Los Angeles Clippers to acquire Harris. At the time, the veteran forward was having a career season with the Clippers under Doc Rivers. Knowing he would hit the free agency market at the end of the 2018-2019 season, the Clippers shipped Harris off to Philly.
The Sixers wanted their gamble to pay off long-term, so they upped the ante on Harris by inking him to a long-term max contract. Harris' first full season in a Sixers uniform wasn't bad -- but he also failed to reach expectations.
After bringing Rivers to town, the Sixers hoped the veteran head coach could get Harris back on track. And so far, the reunion hasn't disappointed. In 12 games this season, Harris has knocked down 50-percent of his shots from the field, which is a three-percent upgrade from last year.
While Harris is still averaging 19 points-per-game, matching last year's average -- he's much more efficient from beyond-the-arc as he's drained 41-percent of his threes. Overall, Harris has consistently been one of the Sixers' best players this season, and his All-Star teammate is beginning to campaign for his possible MVP campaign.
“Tobias had a great night,” said Sixers All-Star center Joel Embiid following Wednesday night's win over the Boston Celtics. “He’s playing at an All-Star level as he should be. And he should be an All-Star.”
On Wednesday night, Embiid shined in the win as he scored a game-high of 42 points. It was evident that the Sixers relied heavily on Embiid to take over on offense to help them get the win, but Harris didn't make him do it all alone.
In just under 40 minutes of action, Harris shot 9-for-17 from the field, accounting for 22 points on Wednesday. While he was a bit quiet in the second and third quarters, Harris came up big for Philly in the fourth and helped Embiid get the 76ers out in front of the Celtics to pick up their tenth win of the season.
It's probably too early to count on Harris getting an All-Star nod for the first time in his career. Still, if he keeps his foot on the gas and continues to be an efficient scorer for the currently top-seeded 76ers, it's going to be hard for All-Star voters not to acknowledge the veteran forward.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_