PHILADELPHIA — Tobias Harris knew he had to make some adjustments.
Tyrese Maxey’s astronomical second-year leap meant that Harris would be the one to lose most of his usage when James Harden arrived in the middle of last season. But after struggling to find his footing in a reduced role in the final quarter of the regular season, things clicked for the veteran forward in the playoffs. He embraced being a defensive stopper and catch-and-shoot slasher, ranking as perhaps the most consistent Sixer in the team’s two-round stay in the 2022 playoffs.
But, it was time to adjust again. Harris has never been one to let ego get in the way of team success, and he wasn’t going to let his inflated paycheck hold him back from buying into what the Sixers envisioned for him. The Sixers wanted to modernize their offense a bit. Getting out-shot by double-digits on three-point attempts was a losing proposition. They had their hubs — Joel Embiid, Harden, and Maxey. Now, they needed a supporting cast that would chuck when the ball sprayed around the perimeter.
Harris was more than willing to comply, but some work was needed to smoothen the fit. Namely, he needed to make some changes to his jump shot.
“Me and my trainer, we call it ‘calibration’ type stuff. So, making sure that we get those looks off in a timely manner. Stopwatch. Point-five, point-six, things of that nature. Because one thing we saw even last year, I was in the gym shooting, I wasn’t shooting the looks quick enough as they were coming in the game. There was a lot of adjustments. A lot of ball-height adjustments, as well. And a lot of footwork going into these types of things. So, the skills are very good for me. This is probably the best my jumper has felt my whole career,” Harris said after Sunday’s practice.
His efforts to adapt have paid dividends thus far.
In the early stages of his twelfth season, the Islip, New York native has the highest three-point attempt rate of his career, launching nearly 49 threes per 100 shots through the Sixers’ first eleven games. The results are there, with Harris knocking down more than 44 percent of his 5.7 three-point attempts per game.
“We’re just exploring it, exploring it on the floor. The other night, I ended up shooting a pin-down three and that was big for me because I haven’t taken a lot of those in my career. So, just kind of evolving and figure out ways in this role to be the best player that I can be,” Harris added.
That triple coming off a pin-down is a microcosm of Harris’ overall effort to fit the Sixers’ puzzle.
More than 80 percent of his shots have come from the catch in the early-going, and Harris has cashed in on nearly 46 percent of his 59 catch-and-shoot three-point looks. His 1.328 points scored per catch-and-shoot jumper ranks in the 81st percentile of all NBA players, according to Synergy. Most importantly, his effective field goal percentage of 66.4 on catch-and-shoot looks suggests Harris has become quite comfortable with a more three-point-heavy shot diet.
“I’ve learned a lot about shooting that I wish I knew, honestly, eight years ago, nine, ten years ago. But, better late than never, right?,” Harris posited.
“But, at certain times, it is different, but I’ve seen the results and I can feel the rhythm, as well.”