Over the last three-plus seasons, Tobias Harris has seen it all for the Philadelphia 76ers. The departure of Jimmy Butler, Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz. The arrivals of Al Horford, Josh Richardson, and James Harden. Through it all, Harris has remained a steady constant on the Sixers roster.
But while Harris’ name in the Sixers’ lineup hasn’t changed, his spot and role in that lineup have been anything but steady.
Once again this season, Harris’ role projects to be a little different than last year’s. And at Sixers media day last week, Harris sat down with Lauren Rosen to discuss how he settles into his oft-changing roles and deals with the ever-present (and ever-demanding) Philadelphia crowd.
“I have to eliminate my ego, more and more and more. Like so, I think that as a player to this magnitude, like, you have expectations for yourself. And sometimes you have to just stay leveled and stay really balanced. And at times last year, I definitely do that to eliminate my ego. And once I was truly able to do that, I saw myself flourishing in the role that was presented for me. That honestly wasn’t basketball, but was like, taught me in life as well,” Harris explained.
Harris’ new role is expected after the Sixers signed free agent PJ Tucker this summer. Tucker is projected to slot into the Sixers’ starting five in Harris’ former position as power forward, with Harris moving to the three.
But during training camp, head coach Doc Rivers pumped the brakes on that expectation.
Rivers Has Been Experimenting With Different 76ers Lineups
Last week, Rivers revealed that the Sixers were experimenting with a lineup that featured Tucker at the three and youngster Paul Reed playing power forward next to Joel Embiid at center.
“With PJ, it’s probably more 3 than 4 because we want PJ to be in his spots,” Rivers explained, per Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “We ran some Paul Reed at the 4 and Joel at the 5, and we ran some today with Tobias at the 4 and a small guy at the 3. We moved that around a lot today.”
If that’s the case, Harris could potentially log more minutes than expected at power forward, the position he’s occupied for most of the last two seasons. Last season, Harris spent 77% of his time at the four, compared to the remaining 23% at small forward, per Cleaning the Glass. When Harris played at the four last season, the Sixers were a far more efficient team, with plus-4.5 points per 100 possessions, compared to the minus-0.2 when he played as a jumbo-three.
If Harris is playing in his more familiar role in the four, it could bode well for his potential to make his first All-Star Game next season.
76ers Predicted to Have Four All-Stars
According to Zach Buckley of Bleacher Report, the Philadelphia 76ers could join historic company next season. In an article on September 22, Buckley predicted the Sixers could field four All-Stars next season.
“Embiid is a lock and Harden should be something close to it. The only questions are whether Maxey and Harris can elevate to that level,” Buckley wrote.
If the Sixers manage the feat, they would become the first team since the Kevin Durant-Steph Curry-Draymond Green-Klay Thompson quadfecta reached the midseason festival in 2018. Later that season, the Golden State Warriors won the Finals on the backs of their stars.