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Jeff Reni’s NBA Player of the Week: Tobias Harris

Trades are a normal part of the NBA regular season. It is through trades that teams try to either compete with their current roster, or build assets for future development. However, this process can be tough for players, as they are forced to continue their everyday activities knowing that there is a good possibility of having to leave everything behind in a second. This is why my NBA player of the week is Tobias Harris. Harris has been traded 4 times in his NBA career, and has played for 5 different franchises.  This can be incredibly discouraging for young players as they never have the opportunity to establish themselves on a team. In addition, the player has to adjust themselves with new teammates, coaches, and new offensive and defensive responsibilities. In spite of this, Harris has been a professional throughout his career and has continued to improve his game. Harris has transformed from a bench player averaging a measly 5 points per game to a cusp-all-star averaging 20 ppg at around a 50% field goal percentage. The man can score from anywhere, and was clearly the best player on the LA Clippers this season before being traded to Philadelphia.

Harris has the uncanny ability to score from anywhere on the court, and has even proven to be a reliable 3-point shooter hat 44% from behind the arc in 2018-19. This was demonstrated in his last game with Clippers where he scored 34 point on 60+% shooting, including hitting the game-winning shot with only 4 seconds left. While Harris is clearly a valuable player, the Clippers knew that they simply did not have enough pieces to compete for a championship. They therefore decided to trade their most valuable asset the morning after his incredible performance. It made sense as the Clippers are preparing for both the upcoming draft and are also freeing up money for free agency. While the Clippers’ actions have clear logic, it just seems a bit unfair that Harris was traded the morning after such an incredible performance, in a season where he has given everything to this team.

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A silver lining to this entire situation is that at least now Harris is finally on a team that has a legitimate opportunity to compete for a championship. After a career of being traded to teams with minimal success, Harris can finally play on a team with legitimate superstars like Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, and Jimmy Butler.  This also appears to be a good fit for Harris’ overall game, as he is now not forced to carry the load on offense, and can be utilized as a solid third option. This helps him to take the shots that he wants without having to essentially create offense on every single play. This was seen in both of his games with his new team. The 76ers won both of those games easily against solid opponents. In his first game with the 76ers, they played against the 2-seed Denver Nuggets. Tobias scored 14 points on 50% field goal percentage, and scored a crucial 5 points in the fourth quarter.

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In the game against the LA Lakers, Harris scored 22 points with an overall field goal percentage of 64%. Harris also was shooting the ball effectively from deep, as he had a 3-point field goal percentage of 60%. This threat he has from deep creates a lot of space for the offense as opposing defenses have to stay on Harris from the 3-point line. This helps players like Embiid, who are able to use this space to dominate the paint without having to worry about defenses doubling him. This strategy proved very effectivs as Embiid was able to score 34 points in that game.

Overall, Harris is my player of the week because he demonstrated that he could be the missing piece that Philly needs to compete for a championship this year. Through his playmaking ability, and his ability to stretch the floor, the 76ers now have a legitimate shot at beating any of the Eastern Conference powerhouses this season.

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