Tobias Harris' willingness to change his play style has earned him enormous respect from the Philadelphia 76ers and their fans. After already signing a max contract and playing a certain way for the majority of his 12-year career, he has made sizable adjustments that have made him fit more seamlessly with the current Sixers core.
In an interview with the Rights to Ricky Sanchez podcast, Harris explained that changing his game was tough because it involved him having the ball way less. The Sixers forward is not used to waiting to receive the ball and then having to make a split-second decision on where to go with it.
“It was definitely a struggle because it was like, I've had success in my game playing a specific way,” Harris said. “People say, ‘Describe your game. Like, how would you play?’ And for me, it's just one word: flow. Like, in the flow of the game, you can put me in a position to post up, you can put me in pick-and-rolls to create, to come off. I've always been very efficient in the midrange and whatnot. Catch-and-shoot threes as well, with space and with time prior to making the adjustment.”
Harris explained that he initially wasn't fond of the idea of just standing and waiting for the ball. But he soon realized that his typical play style could often slow down the Sixers offense. He came to realize that spacing the floor for Joel Embiid and James Harden — who he called some of the best isolation players in the league — and getting his shots around them is best for everyone.
“My goal this season coming in was to average eight [3-point attempts] a game,” Harris said, adding that he also wanted to shoot above 40 percent. In 31 games this season, Harris is averaging 16.5 points while shooting 49.4 percent from the field and 39.5 percent from deep on 5.4 attempts. Although his targeted attempts are way short, he is taking 41.4 of his field goals from deep, which is a career-high. Earlier in the season, with everyone healthy, he took roughly half of his shots from beyond the arc.
When asked if he was happy that he made the adjustment, Harris said that he was. “This just shows a new element of my game, right? I've always been somebody, whatever you ask of me, I want to do,” he said. The shooting improvement has allowed Harris more opportunities to get dunks and thus is shooting 72.0 percent on shots within three feet of the hoop and 56.4 percent on all twos, both the best of his career. His 1.2 steals per game are also a career-high.
The Sixers still have to prove they're a true title contender. But Tobias Harris' willingness to change his game so much is a crucial step in the right direction.