Tobias Harris has enjoyed a role on the 76ers where his scoring is needed. If only the 27-year-old forward would shoot just a tad more.
At least that is the assessment of Sixers coach Brett Brown, who feels Harris has been a bit too unselfish.
“I want him to have a scorer’s mentality,” Brown said after Wednesday’s practice as the Sixers (15-6) prepare for Thursday’s game in Washington against the 6-13 Wizards. .
Instead of finding the rim, Harris often finds his teammates instead.
“I still think he passes up two threes a game,” Brown said. “We have gone through him and put him in environments and he is such an unselfish player that sometimes he doesn’t defer, he just makes a pass that maybe he might not need to.”
It’s not as if the 6-foot-8 Harris is bashful to shoot. He leads the team with 313 field goal attempts and is second on the Sixers in scoring at 18.4 points per game. Now in his ninth season, Harris is also shooting a career-best 48.9 percent from the field.
Harris has recently been providing his best work late in games.
During Saturday’s 119-116 win over visiting Indiana, Harris scored 14 of his 22 points in the fourth quarter. In Monday’s 103-94 home win over Utah, Harris scored 10 of his team-high 26 points in the fourth quarter. It continued a strong showing in the final quarter.
This season, he is shooting 38 for 76 in the fourth quarter, according to basketball-reference. (His best quarter is the third where he is shooting 43 for 78, .551).
Now, if only he could pull the trigger just a little more in any quarter.
Harris, acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers at the trade deadline last season, agrees with his coach that there are shots he has passed up.
“Yes, when I look at the film, I think I see a couple of them, maybe,” he said. “But I like to evaluate my shots in rhythm, but I definitely understand where (Brown) wants me to let them fly, especially from three.”
The one area of his offensive game that has been lagging behind this season has been three-point shooting, where he is hitting 29.5 percent. That is below his career average of 36.1.
That might be why there could be some initial reluctance to pass up shots, but Brown wants him to keep firing.
What is undeniable is that Harris is much more comfortable this season than he was in the playoffs last season, when he averaged 15.5 points and shot 42.5 percent from the field. For somebody who has averaged 18.2 points in his three previous full seasons, Harris is still developing the scorer’s mentality Brown is looking for.
"I am most comfortable when I am in rhythm and just in a flow over the course of the game,” Harris said. “I take my opportunities when they are there and I pride myself on being a player who plays in the flow of the game and try to get the offense created through other teammates and things we are doing so well.”
He says that playing on a team where Ben Simmons can adeptly hit the open man and Joel Embiid draws plenty off double-teams has benefited his game.
“I am definitely taking advantage of a lot of different scenarios and situations on the floor,” he said. “I think it is a good sign.”
Another is that he knows he has to be a scorer, but won’t do it at all costs. He says he loves playing on a team that has such good ball movement.
“I am a student of the game, I know where my touches are coming from, I know different guys, their characteristics and how they play, where they want the rock,” Harris said. “The biggest thing is going out there and winning. I pride myself on doing the things to help us win games.”