Amid a rocky start to the season for the Philadelphia 76ers, one key player's massive improvements are being overshadowed. Lost in all the discussion about Joel Embiid, James Harden, Tyrese Maxey and even Doc Rivers is Tobias Harris, who is sacrificing scoring volume for efficiency and becoming the player the Sixers need him to be.

Harris not getting as much attention as the three aforementioned players — the ones most important to the Sixers — is no surprise or injustice. His willingness to change his game so much is flying more under the radar, which perfectly encapsulates why it has been so effective. Harris is making a seamless transformation from a decent scorer who can defend into a true 3-and-D player.

Through 11 games and 33.5 minutes per contest, Tobias Harris is averaging 15.0 points, 6.6 rebounds and 3.0 assists with a career-best 44.4 percent shooting mark from beyond the arc. On top of a career-best 3-point percentage, Harris is also taking 3-pointers way more frequently. This season, he is taking 48.8 percent of his shots from deep. The 12-year veteran has only taken over a third of his field goals from behind the arc in one other season.

The 3-point efficiency AND volume are both the best they have ever been for Harris. Compared to last season, he has sacrificed 2.3 field-goal attempts per game yet is only scoring 2.2 fewer points per game. While Maxey grows into a bona fide top scorer, Harris is making his life easy by taking a step back and becoming one of his floor spacers. In fact, he's one of the better catch-and-shoot players across the whole league through the first few weeks of the 2022-23 season.

“It’s big for us,” Rivers said last week about Harris' catch-and-shoot improvements. “He obviously has to get used to the most on our team to not touching the ball as much as he has in the past. And I really think he’s trying to do that. He’s catch and shooting pretty.”

Live and breathe the NBA?

🚨 Get viral NBA graphics, memes, rumors and trending news delivered right to your inbox with the Clutch Newsletter.

In addition to his shooting, Harris has been a key defender for the Sixers. Now deploying a scheme with more switches, Harris' size and mobility allow him to guard a wide range of players. He's averaging a career-best 1.4 steals per game and contests more shots per game than any of Philly's perimeter players. This is more so a trend he is continuing rather than showing for the first time, but it is still an important contribution.

Ever since he signed a max contract with Philadelphia in the infamous 2019 offseason, basketball fans in general have been quick to point out he isn't worth such a deal. Among the maddening few years of failed attempts at title contention, the $180 million pill has been harder to swallow for Sixers fans. His mid-range-laden, 3-point-averse shot chart and inconsistency in other areas made him an easy target and, in fairness to Philly fans, has limited the team's ceiling.

This version of Tobias Harris, though, is exactly what they need with two superstars and a third star emerging. Embiid, Harden and Maxey will (and should) command the ball a lot. The best players to surround them with are guys with quick triggers from deep. Harris is just that and still has the handles to attack defenses from time to time. That skill will be extra important with Harden sidelined for a month and Embiid still getting his wind back after a bout with the flu.

Harris hasn't completely shaken his bad habits, as his poor decision-making on offense can still show at times. He is also shooting just 19-of-29 on shots at the rim so far this year, which is not good. Still, the positives have outweighed the negatives. On top of his shooting improvements, Harris is one of the team's leaders. Both by example and vocally, Harris is there for his teammates and is buying into the new role has needs.

Many members of the Sixers talked up and down about how defense and intensity would be central to their identity this season before it tipped off. That has not happened at all and can hardly be blamed on injuries to anyone. Lost in the frustrations with that aspect of the team is Harris living up to the expectations he set for himself. At Sixers Media Day, he talked about his new mindset when it came to shooting: letting it fly quickly and with confidence. He has fulfilled that promise and then some.

Embiid and Maxey remain the most important Sixers (as will Harden when he returns), but Harris' contributions shouldn't be overlooked. He may not be an All-Star or live up to his massive contract, but he can still be — and certainly has been so far this season — a star in his role.