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Clippers Retrospective: Tobias Harris

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Tobias Harris had a short tenure in L.A., but he’s one of the more impactful Clippers of this era for a number of reasons.

NBA: Los Angeles Clippers at Toronto Raptors Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Key Stats

  • Acquired along with Boban Marjanovic, Avery Bradley and a couple of future picks in January of 2018 in the deal that sent Blake Griffin to Detroit.
  • Averaged 20.1 points, 6.9 rebounds and a shade under 3 assists across 87 games during parts of 2 seasons in a Clipper uniform.
  • His average of 20.9 points during 55 games with the Clippers last season was a career-high.
  • Averaged better than 15 points and 9 rebounds per game in 12 postseason games this past spring for the Sixers, helping them to the brink of the Eastern Conference Finals in the process.
  • Originally drafted 19th overall by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 2011 draft out of Tennessee.
  • Spent a season-and-a-half in Milwaukee before being dealt to the Magic in the trade that sent old friend J.J. Redick to the Bucks in the middle of the 2013 campaign.
  • The future first-rounder that came to the Clippers from the Pistons in the Griffin-Harris trade turned into Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (via a flip-flop trade with Charlotte on draft night).
  • Inked a 5-year, $180 million deal to remain with the 76ers earlier this month.

Expectations

Despite already having been in the league for six-plus seasons at the time he joined the Clippers, Harris wasn’t exactly a household name. Tobias had put up some solid numbers earlier in his career with Orlando and Detroit, but team success didn’t follow until he helped the Clippers become one of the most surprising stories in the NBA last season.

Tobias and the future first-rounder were the obvious prizes of the Griffin trade, along with the salary relief. The deal initially came off as a nice way of dumping Blake’s massive contract, but the Clippers also clearly saw some potential in Harris, who was still just 25 at the time of the trade. Nobody expected him to be a superstar on the level of Blake, but people thought he would be a good player for the Clippers.

Reality

Harris really blossomed with the Clippers, and he managed to push for a Western Conference All-Star spot last season while helping the Clips get off to a shockingly good start. He was downright bricky from 3-point range earlier in his career, but he vastly improved his shooting stroke prior to the 2017-18 campaign. That success carried over to his time in L.A., where he shot better than 42% from deep during his brief tenure with the team.

That improved marksmanship was a big part of what attracted the trade interest from a Sixers team desperately in need of more shooting this past spring. Adding that aspect to what was already a well-rounded offensive repertoire helped turn the 6’8” Harris into one of the more dangerous weapons in the game, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that he has always shown a knack for hitting the glass.

Legacy

Harris was a crucial half of the Bobi & Tobi show, which has rather unfortunately been split up this offseason with Boban having signed with Dallas. He was a fan favorite during his limited stint with the Clips, and his role on one of the more fun teams in franchise history will be remembered.

Harris’ mark on the Clippers extends beyond what he brought to the team as a player, of course. The pick that came with him from Detroit that eventually became Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was huge. Shai looked like one of the more promising youngsters in the league last season, and the Clips were able to flip his promise (along with plenty else) to OKC in the deal for Paul George earlier this summer. The 2021 Miami first-rounder that the Clippers also nabbed from Philly went to the Thunder in the deal, too.

The trade of Tobias to Philadelphia most notably brought Landry Shamet to town. Shamet was excellent in the latter stages of last season with the Clips, and he’ll obviously play a massive role as a shooter on next season’s team, as well. To state the obvious, trading (and more importantly, not paying) Harris helped the Clippers get George and Kawhi Leonard.

As of now, Tobias Harris is right there with Lou Williams as the best players of the post-Lob City era. That’ll obviously change as soon as Leonard and George suit up for the first time this fall, but Harris helped make the brief “rebuilding” period more fun than it probably should’ve been. Even if the eras of Clipper basketball bookending his time with the team will have (probably) been more fruitful from a wins perspective, fans will fondly recall last year’s underdog squad.

Few players in the league have improved over the last handful of years as much as Tobias Harris has, and it was fun to see him take some of those steps in a Clipper uniform.