Season Recap/Notes: Tobias Harris.

Follow along with all the stats on Tobias' basketball reference page right here.Any stats that are not readily available on that page will be linked to or otherwise noted.

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Note for clarification: This post is about Tobias' time with the Pistons. Obviously there will be references to his time before the trade, but especially considering how vastly different his role switched following the trade, I am going to use pretty much all numbers from just his time with the Pistons. As such, all numbers and points made should be assumed to have a small asterisk of *small(ish) sample size.

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The Good:

Tobias Harris can straight up get buckets. He averaged 16.6ppg on the highest TS% on the team, (among the higher usage guys. Joel Anthony, Justin Harper, and Reggie Bullock technically beat him lol) and they were largely of the "very difficult" variety. Prior to the trade, the Pistons had a gaping hole in their offense in not really having a real 3rd option beyond the Jackson/Drummond PnR. While KCP and (especially) Marcus Morris put up valiant efforts filling in as the 3rd options, it was a stretch for both of them. Upon Tobias' arrival, he immediately set about being the guy who the Pistons could turn to for reliable offense when they needed a change of pace from the PnR. Once again, I want to re-iterate, that despite the generally difficult shots (you have surely heard people question his shot selection in the past in his career) he was, by a fair margin, the Pistons most efficient scorer. And FWIW, the shot selection was really not an issue. Similarly to Marcus Morris earlier in the season, the hard shots that Tobias took were within the offense because the Pistons needed someone who was able to take the hard shots. And my theory is that (once again, similarly to Marcus) Tobias was able to get his fill of really hard shots within the offense, responded by playing smart and taking the right shots the rest of the time as well. In news other than his scoring, he had a career high in assists, and also (by my estimation) played some of the best defense of his career, and while that might be more of a comment on how piss poor his defense and passing had been before, (he averaged 2.6 assists with the Pistons, and 2.2 over the course of the season. Even the 2.2 is a career high) but it was still very nice to see.

It cannot be overlooked that Tobias had a very obvious positive effect on Marcus Morris' game as well. With Harris in the fold, Morris was allowed to go at weaker defenders with regularity, and experienced a god-dammed epiphany shooting the ball from deep, and just his general efficiency. And Tobias gets a mini-assist on that, because Marcus went from dueling with the likes of Paul George every night, to dueling the likes of CJ Miles, while Tobias went toe to toe with the big dogs. The Mobias relationship was a symbiotic one.

Also, it must be noted. That he is very well known as being a really awesome guy. That is always a good thing. Throw in the fact that we can make J Cole jokes on top of it, and he brings some good stuff off the court.

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The Bad:

Even though he passed better and played better defense than he had before in his career, it still was not all that good. I am less concerned with his passing, he may never be a high assist guy, but he was a very willing ball mover and rarely took stupid shots. (something that had been his calling card earlier in his career. And FWIW, this was a carry over from Orlando, he had cleaned up his game on both ends this season.) So while he does still have some improvement that would be good from a passing perspective, he showed enough willingness to pass that I am not too concerned about it, whether it is Morris or Stanley at the other forward spot there will be enough passing from the Pistons forwards. (Although if they were to sign a true PF who is not really a passer then Tobias might need to grow a bit more as a facilitator.) My bigger concern was his defense, because even though he did play better than before, it was still not good enough. I have faith that he will improve, he is well known as a very hard worker who is coachable (read any of Zach Lowe's pieces involving Harris and it is always stated that even basketball people who don't like Tobias as a player admit that he works his tail off and is a great guy.) and when combined with SVG being the coach, that should lead to improvements. HOWEVA, he just finished his 5th year in the NBA, and a lot of the same problems are still there. He is too high too often, and gets burned on the PnR with regularity. He might still end up being the wrong kind of tweener on defense, where he is not really quick enough to play on the perimeter, and not big enough to bang inside.

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Biggest Answer?

He can fit in with this team. Following the trade, most of the doubters placed their fears in that Tobais had/has a reputation of being a ball hogging chucker who didn't really play defense and hurt team chemistry. While this was actually already largely disproven already in Orlando where Tobias very willingly took a smaller role on offense and put more focus on defense and passing, his fit was still a bit of a worry. It was a little goofy that SVG tried to bring him off the bench at first, but Tolly got hurt and killed that after just a couple games. From the moment he entered the starting lineup, it was clear that he helped the Pistons immensely and filled a big hole in the team. He may not be quite a perfect fit, (we'll see how he shoots the 3 long term.) but he does fit.

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Biggest Question?

2 of them. Can he improve his defense in a meaningful way? And how will he shoot the 3 in the long term? The shooting is pretty simple, if he can shoot at least in the mid 30s from deep then he will provide enough spacing that it won't be an issue, but if he were to return to shooting in the low 30s from deep then spacing could quickly become a problem. On defense it has bigger implications. If he does not improve his defense, then it is not far behind KCP's offense as the biggest holes in the starting lineup. The reality is that the Pistons kind of need a really good wing defender (right now KCP is too small for this task) and if Harris cannot take some steps towards being at least pretty good, then Stanley might be forced into a larger role regardless of his offensive improvement. Simply put, Tobias' defense is a liability as of now. If he could become a solid defensive player then he is pretty damn near a perfect fit for the Pistons.

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Verdict for this year and beyond?

Great move by the Pistons to get him, and I think he will be a awesome fit for them long term. I don't know for sure if he is good enough to be "The final piece" of the Pistons young core or not (that has more to do with how others develop) but if other guys develop as you would hope, then he might end up being the piece that got the Pistons over the hump. I think his defense will get ironed out towards being solid and he will be the Pistons 3rd/4th best player (4th possibly only because I'm optimistic on Stanley) for all of his time in Detroit, and that is a perfect spot for him to be in I think. One thing I will be interested in, is whether or not SVG expands his role on offense a bit or not, because his efficiency is so good that one would think that Tobias could maybe take another couple shots per game. Regardless, there is no reason to believe that he will do anything less than score in the upper teens, possibly even low 20s, points per game and do well enough at everything else to fit in just fine. Also keep in mind, this dude is only 23, less than a year older than KCP, and is already this good. There is a chance he could end up developing into something really special, and SVG is a good enough coach that I actually have some faith in the potential becoming reality.

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What do you think? What was the best thing you saw from Tobias this season? What about the worst? Let me know! We all get smarter!