Tobias Harris Gave 76ers Exactly What They Needed vs. Nets
Over the offseason, the Philadelphia 76ers had enough funds to take on two max superstars. Fortunately, multiple prominent names were hitting the market, including two Sixers from the 2018-2019 season in Jimmy Butler, and Tobias Harris.
When some of the other big names such as Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant, and Kyrie Irving didn't give Philadelphia the time of day, the 76ers' front office focused on trying to retain their own. Butler was in the mix, but things went south behind the scenes.
Therefore, the Sixers decided a sign and trade involving Butler was their best bet. Meanwhile, Philly liked their midseason acquisition from last year, Tobias Harris. And although Harris wasn't the ideal fit just yet, Brett Brown and his staff had confidence in their ability to grow Harris as a better defender and scorer.
We're currently halfway through Harris' first season as a max superstar with the Sixers, and so far, things are going well. Harris has clearly upgraded his defense over the offseason, and now his head coach is working on growing him as a scorer.
A couple of months ago, Brett Brown mentioned he wants Tobias Harris to be the Sixers' new JJ Redick-type of a player. That doesn't mean a guy who is out there just chucking up three-pointers, though. He also wants Harris to lead and become the go-to guy in crunch time.
"What I have said to him is that I want you to score -- I want to grow you as a scorer," Brown said on Wednesday before the Sixers faced the Nets.
"I think [Tobias Harris] has grown his game to where I want it to be. He can get into the lane and jump over smaller people, and I'm happy with that. I think that if you take a deeper dive, you will see him in more pick and rolls and making passes out the pick and rolls. Historically, that has not been his thing."
Brown's pregame comments regarding Harris aged well a few hours later as the Sixers' forward took over the matchup against Brooklyn and helped seal the 117-106 victory.
During Harris' 35 minutes on the court, he drained 14 of his 20 attempted shots for a total of 34 points. Overall, Harris was solid. But his fourth-quarter performance is what was most impressive about his game.
"There is a genuine desire to win," Brown said in regards to Harris' big fourth quarter. "You can see it in his face and his action in the locker room. It matters, and he cares a lot. He was our bell-ringer tonight, and I was proud of him. It's deeper than him just making shots. It doesn't surprise me that he came out the way he did."
One clutch performance by Harris won't solve all of the Sixers' problems moving forward, but it is a start. As the Sixers host Chicago on Friday, they will look to put together another winning streak so they can continue to climb their way out of the sixth seed.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_