Sixers Urged to Target Versatile Scoring Guard in Free Agency

Gary Harris, Philadelphia 76ers

Gett Gary Harris, Philadelphia 76ers

Despite having James Harden and Joel Embiid on their roster, the Philadelphia 76ers are in severe need of additional scoring, specifically off the bench.

As we edge closer to the upcoming free-agency period, we can expect the Sixers to be linked with a plethora of guards and wings, all of whom will likely provide upside as an offensive talent. However, there aren’t many better options out there than Gary Harris.

In a June 9 article for Bleacher Report, NBA Analyst Zach Buckley listed Harris as a “sleeper contract” for the Sixers to pursue once the off-season is in full swing, and given the veteran’s versatile skillset, the addition would make perfect sense for Daryl Morey.

“Harris’ defense alone could get him a regular run in Philly, but the promise he holds on offense could make him a late-game lineup fixture. He splashed 1.9 threes at a 38.4 percent clip in 2021-22, and he has thrice averaged at least 12.3 points on better than 46 percent shooting,” Buckley wrote.

Harris will be entering his ninth year in the NBA next season, but will still only be 28-years-old, meaning he’s just entering his prime and given his defensive upside, and the unfulfilled promise of his three-point shot, he may be a risk worth taking for a Sixers team in need of some fresh blood.

What Does Harris Bring to Philadelphia

At six-foot-four, Harris provides some much-needed size on the perimeter and when coupled with his ability to navigate screens and contest shots as a trail-man, make him exceptional impactful on the defensive end of the floor.

However, the Sixers already boast Matisse Thybulle and Shake Milton – both of whom are defensively gifted but struggle to provide an impact on the offensive side of the ball. Harris can help here, he’s a career 36.3% shooter from deep, and is averaging 11.8 points per game throughout his eight seasons in the league. Furthermore, the Indiana native has proven capable of impacting games from the bench or as a starter, giving the Sixers better rotation options throughout the season.

According to Instat’s tracking data, Harris primarily operates as a catch-and-shoot scorer, providing his team with spacing on the perimeter, in fact, this past season, 25% of his offense came off the catch. The former Denver Nuggets star is adept at playing off the ball, and also impacted the Orlando Magic’s offense when peeling off dribble hand-offs or driving off the catch to pressure the rim.

Harris is also capable of scoring from two-point range, averaging a 63% conversion rate at the rim this past season, along with 42% from floater range, and 34% from long mid-range jumpers. But, the 28-year-old’s bread-and-butter offense comes from the corner three, where he went 66-for-144 this past season, ranking him in the 81st percentile among guards, per Cleaning the Glass.

Thybulle Expected to Improve his Offense

Speaking to the media on May 13, both head coach Doc Rivers and GM Daryl Morey discussed Matisse Thybulle’s need to develop on the offensive end. Sure, the third-year wing is an exceptional defender, but when the post-season rolls around, his offense makes him almost unplayable.

The 25-year-old has participated in 25 playoff games for his career, averaging just 3.9 points, 1.3 rebounds, and 0.4 assists per game, despite playing an average of 17.3 minutes per contest. Thybulle’s limited shooting and inability to pressure the rim creates an issue for a Sixers team that needs spacing in order to compete.

“He’s putting in the work. It’s gradual. It’s called being patient and we are. I think it makes us more patient because he works at it. We would be less patient if we didn’t think he was working at it. There were improvements. He became a better cutter, he ran the floor better, and the next step is for him to improve his shot. That’s his marching orders for the summer,” Doc Rivers told the media during his exit interview.

Morey also noted how the third-year wing’s offense needs to improve, and that Thybulle is working hard to become a two-way player at the NBA level, “He’s looking at himself like, how can I improve and contribute in other ways? I think for Matisse his mission, which he knows, is how can he improve in ways that make him someone who can make more of an impact in the playoffs and I think he will in the future.”

The Sixers have a lot of work to do if they want to be seen as genuine championship contenders next season, and it looks like Harris could be an ideal target for a franchise that needs to strike the right balance between offense and defense.


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