The Los Angeles Clippers acquired forward Tobias Harris as part of the Blake Griffin trade last season. Harris went on to play extremely well for the Clippers. He averaged a career-high 19.3 points per game in his 32 games with the team. However, he could be on the cusp of an even more impressive season. Tobias Harris will have a breakout year.
Harris was selected 19th overall by the Charlotte Bobcats, now the Hornets, in the 2011 NBA draft. He was then quickly traded to the Milwaukee Bucks on draft night. This was the beginning of a confusing trend for Harris. After appearing in 70 games with the Bucks, he was dealt to the Orlando Magic during the 2012-13 season as part of a trade for J.J. Redick. Harris played in 27 games for the Magic that season. At 20 years old, he averaged an impressive 17.3 points per game during that stretch. Harris continued to play well for Orlando for two and a half more seasons until he was then traded to the Detroit Pistons in February of 2016 for Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings.
Harris had a strong 2016-17 season for Detroit and averaged 16.1 points across 82 games. He then took his game to another level for the 2017-18 season. Harris averaged 18.1 points with Detroit and even won Eastern Conference player of the week in November. Nevertheless, he was traded to the Los Angeles Clippers in the previously mentioned Griffin trade. Harris is a player who has shown steady improvement throughout his career. At times last season, he was considered an All Star candidate in the Eastern Conference for the Pistons. For the Clippers, he seems to be part of their plan moving forward, which is something he has not experienced before. They offered Harris a $80 million dollar contract extension and appear to be intent on keeping him.
Opportunity and Last Season’s Improvement
After joining the Clippers, Harris received a career-high 16 field goal attempts per game. Despite the high volume, he shot an efficient 47.3% from the field. This led to him averaging a career high 19.3 points per game. Harris has increased his scoring average in each of the last three seasons, and he will continue to improve.
The Los Angeles Clippers have an interesting roster. The team has a lot of quality players and depth, but they do not have a star player. Lou Williams averaged 22.6 points per game last season and became the first option on offense. However, Williams is set to continue to come off of the bench. This leaves Harris as the natural first option in the starting lineup. Coach Doc Rivers and the coaching staff have now had the benefit of having the offseason to redevelop the offense around Harris and Williams, as well. This should only help Harris’s case.
Harris did not only improve as a scorer last season, but his game improved as a whole. After joining the Clippers, he averaged a career high 3.1 assists per game. To put that into perspective, he averaged only 1.7 assists per game during the previous year with Detroit. Rivers allowed Harris to operate as a pick and roll ball handler much more frequently. This allowed Harris to improve as a playmaker over the course of the season and provided him the opportunity to expand his game. Harris even averaged a career high 1.2 steals per game, as well.
Harris is not only entering a contract year, but he also turned down an $80 million dollar contract extension. He is betting on himself to improve this season and believes that he could even end up receiving a max contract. Harris is certainly working hard on his game this summer, and he could prove to be more aggressive on the court this season. Playing during a contract season helped Williams have a career year last season. The extra motivation could certainly benefit Harris too.
Main Image Credit:
Embed from Getty Images