The Philadelphia 76ers are fully focused on putting the best possible team around Joel Embiid. Adding James Harden to the mix last year was a great start, and Tyrese Maxey turning into a star at the guard position gives them a major boost as well.
They then made some big-time moves this summer. Harden signed at a discount, allowing the team to sign PJ Tucker to a three-year deal and get Montrezl Harrell on a veteran minimum contract. However, the team will need some internal improvement, too, if they want to win it all.
That means there are lots of players with something to prove heading into next year. Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report composed a list of three players who fall under this category. Among them is star Tobias Harris. Buckley stated that he needs to do everything in his power not to be the scapegoat this season.
“That’s why his name keeps bouncing around the rumor mill and why he’s often scapegoated when things go wrong. He might handle an essential role for the team, but his pay rate paints him as more of a luxury,” Buckley wrote.
The forward’s insane contract numbers often cause fans to look at him as the main issue with the roster, even when he’s playing serviceably well. Buckley even noted this, writing about his solid numbers over the past few seasons.
Harris’ Numbers Have Been Decent
At best, Harris is the third scoring option on the Sixers. And if Maxey continues to prove that he’s a star in the NBA, then he’ll likely drop down into the fourth scoring option role. Looking at his numbers, he’s played well in that role.
“Tobias Harris might not be the most consistent player, but his season stats don’t move around much.
“Since 2017-18, he has averaged between 17.2 and 20 points per game, 5.5 and 7.9 rebounds and 2.4 and 3.5 assists. His shooting rates almost always land somewhere between above-average and really good, while his defense typically scores around serviceable,” Buckley explained.
Those numbers reflect roughly what he averaged last season. In 73 games, Harris averaged 17.2 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.5 assists on 48.2% shooting from the field and 36.7% shooting from behind the three-point line.
However, the problems start to flow in when you remember just how much money Harris makes.
Harris’ Contract Cause for Concern
This season, Harris will make around $36.7 million, and the year after that, he’ll be on the books for $39.3 million. For a guy that’s projected to be the third or fourth option on a title team, that’s a ridiculous salary.
“He’s the kind of player you’d think would fly under the radar, but his contract won’t let that happen. He is objectively overpaid at $37.6 million, per Spotrac, and his salary only looks more bloated after Harden’s arrival and Tyrese Maxey’s emergence pushed Harris lower on the offensive pecking order,” said Buckley.
So, as the Sixers get ready for another championship run, Harris needs to start proving that he’s worth more to the team. He’ll likely never live up to the salary he’s making, but improving on his role as the fourth scoring option will be crucial.