During the Ben Simmons era, some tagged Philadelphia 76ers forward Tobias Harris as the third star of the team. After all, the man could put up 20-25 points on a good night. His veteran experience helped fortify the roster on both ends of the floor.
With the addition of James Harden — a player who needs the ball in his hands to succeed — things have quickly changed for Harris. He’s getting fewer touches than he’s used to and the forward opened up on how he's dealing with the change.
Before Harden’s arrival, as well as in his stints in other teams, Harris was usually one of the main guys of the offense. Now, whenever Harris gets the ball, it’s usually in catch-and-shoot situations — a role he’s still trying to get used to.
“Just adapt. Before, there were a lot of pick-and-rolls that went my way, isolations, so there’s less than that now. So you adapt to the style of play and it’s more being ready catch and shoot wise to allow the 3-balls to open up the game, and for me, to be honest, this is like the first time in my career that that has been my role and niche.”
Tobias Harris, USA Today
All eyes were cast on the 76ers once they acquired the Beard. Not only did it signify a resolution of the Ben Simmons saga, but it elevated the Sixers to the ultimate level of pressure. With Harden on board, it's championship or bust for the 76ers. And we all know Harden's record in high-pressure situations.
Harris is well-aware of the pressure. Though the 76ers have been 6-2 since the beginning of the Harden era, critics remember the losses more than the wins. But like any other professional, Harris knows how to handle the noise: ignore it and focus on the task at hand.
“Everybody has made like a huge deal of three games,” Harris added. “I’m just sitting back like evaluating, watching film, going to the gym, putting up extra shots, and staying in rhythm because I know I’m an adapter, and I’ve always been an adapter in any situation. I know that for me, it’s just about figuring out ways to be very efficient in that role. Whether it’s 18 shots or it’s 8 shots, just be efficient, and bring energy on both sides of the game.”
Harris reaped the fruits of his labor in the Sixers’ 116-114 overtime win over the Orlando Magic. He did not just score 26 points. Harris also knocked down four 3-pointers — one of which was a corner dagger that won them the game.
From Harris’ own words and the 76ers’ recent performances, everything is well in Philly. The Ben Simmons saga is nothing but a thing in the past. The focus now is for Harris to constantly adjust his game to accommodate their new star. Hopefully, this sacrifice will be enough to win his first-ever title.