The one Sixers player that could benefit the most from Doc Rivers hiring as head coach
As Doc Rivers embarks on the challenge of turning the Philadelphia 76ers into true championship contenders, much of the focus is and will continue to be, on how he coaches Sixers stars Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons.
And understandably so. How the two superstars continue to develop their games and chemistry will have a bigger impact on the team’s ceiling than anything else.
However, it’s another 76ers player who may benefit the most from the Rivers hire: forward Tobias Harris.
In the hours after the news of Rivers’ hire broke, folks on Twitter began pointing out two notable observations about the Rivers and Harris relationship, dating back to their time together with the Los Angeles Clippers. Rivers coached Harris for 87 games over parts of two seasons in L.A, after Harris was acquired from the Detroit Pistons at the 2018 trade deadline.
From a basketball perspective, Rivers arguably got more out of Harris in their limited time together than any other coach during Harris’ nine-year career. Harris’s average of 20.3 points per game as a Clipper is his highest mark for any of the five teams he’s played for, and his .554 eFG% in L.A. is his best at any stop.
Tobias Harris had best stretch in NBA under Doc Rivers
Harris averaged 20.3 points, 7.2 rebounds with Clippers from 2017-19, shooting 42.6% from 3 point range
— John Clark (@JClarkNBCS) October 1, 2020
The following winter, Harris was traded to Philadelphia for a huge haul that included Landry Shamet, two first-round picks and two second-round picks (among other pieces). After 39 games with the Sixers (including playoffs), GM Elton Brand signed Harris to a five-year, $180 million extension.
As The Athletic’s Michael Lee noted, his career-best production under Rivers with the Clippers directly led to his outsized salary, which many Sixers fans probably wish was at a lower figure.
The contract Tobias has right now is almost entirely based off what Doc did with him. He rarely looked anything like the Clipper version in Philly https://t.co/sCVJ9X5ppR
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) October 1, 2020
Harris is a beloved locker room guy, but he generally underwhelmed on the court in 2019-20. He averaged 19.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game on .471/.367/.806 splits, and 15.8 PPG in the team’s first-round loss in the bubble to the Boston Celtics.