Friday, March 28, 2014

Tobias Harris is Too Good for Tanking

Tobias Harris in 36.1 minutes per contest averaged 17.3 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.1 apg, and 1.4 bpg in the 27 games he played late last season after being acquired from Milwaukee. 'T12' reminded me of a Carmelo Anthony-type forward, and that hasn't changed one bit in my mind in '13-'14. Harris was unfortunately snake-bitten by ankle injuries that kept him out of Summer League, and then forced Tobias to miss crucial training camp and regular season time. Tobias didn't get back to being the Tobias we were used to last year until January. He's barely been healthy 3 months this season.

Despite Jacque Vaughn's discreet tanking rotations and benching Tobias Harris for the past 9 games entering Friday's contest against Charlotte, Harris is proving his potential star value hasn't gone anywhere.

Since Glen Davis got waived away on February 21st, - but before Tobias was sent to the bench on March 8th - Harris averaged 19.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.1 spg, and 95.1 FT% (39-of-41) on 50.5 FG% in 7 games at just under 33 minutes per game starting at power forward. Orlando had a 3-4 record in that stretch. Since then, the Magic had lost 8 straight with Tobias coming off the bench until finally knocking off Portland on Tuesday.

Now you tell me how many coaches and teams in this league would turn down that type of production from their starting power forward unless winning wasn't the priority? No more than a handful.

Even with the coaching staff having Harris produce off the bench, Tobias - in that 1-and-8 team stretch coming off the bench - has been solid. In just over 26 minutes per game off the pine, Tobias is averaging 16.2 ppg and 7.0 rpg on 52.2 FG%. You can see it at after every postgame loss, Tobias doesn't accept defeats. Not to say that other Magic players do too, but you can hear it in his voice through what appears to be a calm demeanor. You can see it in those determined eyes. Tobias hates losing. That's what we all want from any athlete starving to be a top asset in any profession. Seeing T12 having to come off the bench is like watching a thoroughbred race horse not being allowed to sprint with all its natural capability.

This is Tobias' 3rd season in the league. Barring an injury here down the stretch, Harris will have played his most games in a season (looking at over 60), surpassing his combined 55 contests with the Bucks and Orlando last season. More impressively, is Tobias just gets better the more games he plays consecutively as his monthly game splits log shows.

In 12 March games, - in which he's only started 3 - Tobias in just 27.1 minutes per night is averaging 17.3 ppg and 6.6 ppg. The key is the shooting percentages. 50.6 FG%, 37.5 3PT%, and 58.4% true shooting are stats of an elite level player. It puts Tobias in the discussions with the Carmelos, the Dirks, and even be in reach of the Durants.

Tobias will I'm sure be in discussions about a possible extension with the team. Harris is on an outstanding rookie contract. He along with Maurice Harkless and Arron Afflalo will be watching who the Magic select come this summer's draft and in free agency. One thing that needs to be certain is that no matter who gets their contracts extended and which additions show up to training camp in October, Victor Oladipo, Nikola Vucevic, and yes, Mr. Tobias Harris need to be starters. They're your early-20s building blocks who all can be massive pieces to a championship contender.

Tobias has the makings of a stud All-Star who can be your go-to scorer down the stretch of games. Harris is showing his value to the front office both as a starter and even as a bench contributor. Tobias is wise beyond his 21 years. Harris' work ethic and effort will never be questioned on this Magic team. He's come a long way since his heftier Tennessee Volunteer days and being buried on the Bucks' bench. There's no ceiling on how high Tobias' star can reach.

I would be doing my blogging brethren wrong had I not mentioned how outstanding his 'Arrive Alive' commercial campaign has been this season. Get this man some more ads. If his player growth continues, Tobias will be looking at national fame soon.

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