Doc Rivers has seen Philadelphia 76ers veteran forward Tobias Harris at his best. After all, Rivers was the head coach of the Los Angeles Clippers when Harris was one of the biggest names on the trade market at the time.
During the 2018-2019 NBA season, Harris was having a career-year averaging 20 points-per-game while shooting 43-percent from deep. Seeing as though he was heading into free agency in the offseason, the Clippers looked to sell Harris at the deadline before they lost him for nothing.
That's where the Sixers came into play. Harris was decent in the 27 regular-season games he started and played in that year for the Sixers. Although his scoring average was down to 18 PPG, and his three-point percentage dropped to 32-percent, the Sixers felt confident in his ability to turn it around. So, they offered him a long-term deal.
Once again, Harris looked good in his first full season on the Sixers -- but his offensive numbers never returned to Clipper form while playing under former Sixers head coach, Brett Brown. Although his offense took a hit, Harris did improve in places that won't necessarily show up on the stat sheet.
Defensively, Harris showed a lot of improvements last season. As the Sixers prided themselves on becoming one of the league's best defensive teams, Harris stepped up to the plate and improved a lot before Brett Brown was on his way.
When Doc Rivers came into the picture this offseason, the former Clippers head coach made it clear he wants to get Harris to being his best self offensively once again. While Rivers' presence and gameplan have surely helped Harris look his best on offense so far since coming to the Sixers, the veteran forward's defense has really stood out to his head coach lately.
“I love how he’s playing," Rivers said about Harris following a Sixers loss against the Detroit Pistons on Monday night. "Unfortunately for him, we forced him to try to make too many plays with the ball. I don’t like him playing that way, and that got him in trouble a couple of times. But overall, the way he has been playing with quick decisions, and down-hill, he has been fantastic. I think his biggest improvement has been defensively. Like, he has been absolutely wonderful. I don’t remember that Tobias in LA, so I am really happy with that.”
On Monday night, Harris was one of a very few Sixers to stand out in the loss against Detroit. In a little under 30 minutes of action, he shot 10-for-19 from the field, collecting 25 points. On defense, the veteran forward came down with five rebounds and also blocked a shot. Although his team didn't win, Harris' performance was still promising as he continues to be one of the Sixers' most consistent players this year.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_