Season Review: Is Tobias Harris the Missing Piece?

A staple of Stan Van Gundy’s offensive system, Tobias Harris was the combo forward missing from the Detroit Pistons in the first half of the NBA season.  

Tobias Harris was traded to the Detroit Pistons at the NBA trade deadline. Detroit sent a package deal to the Orlando Magic that included point guard Brandon Jennings and Power Forward Ersan Ilyasova.

Harris, 23, signed a four-year $64 million deal with the Orlando Magic in the 2015 free agency period.   He was set to be a key piece to the magic team, but with Orlando having multiple starting level forwards, there was not enough playing time for all of them. Instead Orlando decided to keep uber athletic power forward Aaron Gordon. They drafted small forward Mario Hezonja, and have Evan Fournier, who had a stellar season. Harris was the odd man out, but him being the odd man out was the best thing for not only the Pistons but himself.

Harris’s play skyrocketed when he joined the Pistons. After averaging only 13.7 points, seven rebounds, and two assists per game with Orlando in the first half of the season, his stats jumped. With the Pistons he averaged 16.6 points per game, 2.6 assists per game, and 6.2 rebounds per game.

He also shot extremely efficient when he joined the Pistons he shot 37.5% from the 3-point line after shooting 31% in the first half of the season. His free-throw shooting skyrocketed to 91% after shooting just over 78% in the first half of the season. Stan Van Gundy helped Harris become efficient player, something Harris had struggled to do his entire NBA career.

Harris was also able to develop chemistry with all of his Pistons teammates. He and starting small forward Marcus Morris had an on-court chemistry that ignited the Pistons offense. They were able to connect on many stellar plays in only 27 games together. They are both combo forwards, but that is Stan Van Gundy is offensive system. They were able to work together well, which made the Pistons even more dangerous than they were in the first half of the season.

Harris was a major improvement on defense as well. While the Pistons settle for Ersan Ilyasova as their starting small forward for the first half of the Season, Harris was able to be a two-way player when he arrived in Detroit. Harris was quicker than Ilyasova comma which gave Detroit the ability to switch on nearly every screen. Harris unlike Ilyasova, was quick enough to guard a shooting guard if necessary. He was also able to walk more minutes per game, and be an efficient player at the same time.

Tobias Harris was a great pickup for the Pistons. The trade itself for Harris was a steal. Harris will be a foundational piece for Detroit as their future continues to look brighter and brighter. With Harris at power forward, Detroit has its combo forward of the future.

Featured Image via: USA Today Sports

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