In an interview with Ky Carlin of SixersWire, Philadelphia 76ers wing Tobias Harris talked about what his role has been like on the team, having to play off Joel Embiid and James Harden, knowing how ball-dominant both of them are.
“With the team that we have, the talent that we have, there’s just not that many—there’s less opportunities,” Harris said. “The ball is in James’ hands, Joel’s hands for the majority part of the game. So we got to figure out ways to find a rhythm, find a balance for me, personally. So sometimes that is just catch-and-shooting. That’s been an adjustment for me like I’ve said from the beginning, but it’s something I’m continuing to learn and game by game just continue to try to monitor and find out. Every game is a different opportunity for me to try to expand on it and grow with it, really.”
This season, Harris is putting up his lowest-scoring numbers on average since joining the Sixers in 2019, averaging 15.2 points a game, despite playing around the same number of minutes he’s usually played since joining the team at 33.7 minutes a game.
Harris’ Mindset When Complementing Embiid and Harden
Harris delved into what the wrong mindset would be playing next to Embiid and Harden.
“The other way would be to just fight it and say, ‘Oh no, I can score in all these different moments’ and that would just lead to me just having an attitude and actually being counterproductive for the group,” Harris said.
Harris then talked about how his game has grown in his new role, and how it’s different from the one he’s had in the past.
“So for me, it’s like figuring out ways—it’s another growth of my game. My whole career, I’ve shot 3s, but they were in rhythm and stuff and now it’s shooting 3s like last-second shot clock 3s, like kind of catching the ball out of nowhere, boom, like raise it up and letting it fly. So I think that’s something that I just kind of embrace and say, ‘Hey, this is your role right now. You just have to make it make the best of it, and figure out ways to be productive in it.’”
Harris’ catch-and-shoot frequency has shot up over the past three seasons, having gone from 17.3% in the 2020-21 season to 23.5% in the 2021-22 season to 36.5% this season.
Harris’ Thoughts on Sixers’ Mental Toughness
Harris explained what the Sixers have to improve on this season following their tough losses like how they lost to the Miami Heat last season.
“Just mentality. Mentality, heart, passion, will. That’s really where it stems from. It’s a mentality and understanding like it’s bigger than each individual and ourselves and understanding it’s gonna take a whole team, every single guy, one through 15 that’s on the bench, all our staff, everything, so it’s just mentality.”
The Sixers have been going to the postseason every year since 2018. Trading for Harden last season signaled that they are serious about winning a championship, but the team hasn’t made it past the second round since 2001. The Sixers have shown that they’re capable of winning a playoff series and even making a series interesting with the top teams in the Eastern Conference, but they have not gotten over the hump.
Hence, Harris’ words are true. Becoming a champion requires having the mentality of one.