Tobias Harris has been excellent for the Detroit Pistons, but is he maximizing his abilities on offense?
Tobias Harris is averaging 17.7 points with the Detroit Pistons—up from the 13.7 points he averaged in 49 games with the Orlando Magic this season.
What’s most impressive about Harris’ scoring is not only that he’s increased his points per game by four points (while receiving just one more minute per game), but the efficiency he’s doing it at.
In Orlando, Harris shot 46.4% from the field. In Detroit he’s shooting 51.6%. In Orlando, Harris shot 31.1% from behind the arc. In Detroit, Harris is shooting 42.9%.
Harris’ free throw percentage is also up to 85.0% from 74.4%, and so are his assists numbers (2.4 from 2.0).
Harris has found an offensive system that fits his skills perfectly, which is part of the reason he’s performing at such a higher level than when he was in Orlando. The other contributing factor is that he is letting the offense come to him, and as a result, he’s taking and making high percentage shots.
But should Harris be more aggressive?
Harris is taking two more shots per game in Detroit than he did in Orlando (13 to 11), but his efficiency has only increased across the board.
Perhaps Harris should look for his own shot a little more, especially when the Pistons are struggling to find offense.
The problem with shooting more for the sake of it, is that shots tend to end up being forced. Forced shots are typically going to be a lower percentage shot.
Then again, by being more aggressive, the chances of getting additional free throw attempts and creating offense for others increases too because the defense is being kept on its heels.
Harris is playing near perfect basketball for the Pistons. He’s also playing great team basketball by sacrificing shots for himself that would be good shots, for shots for his teammates that are great shots.
That said, I do think there is room for him to be more aggressive based on the situation.
One such situation is when Harris has a clear advantage—whether that be based on size or speed.
That situation typically occurs when the defense has switch on a pick-and-role. If he has a size advantage, Harris needs to go to the paint and post up. If he has a speed advantage, he needs to pop off of the role and drive to the rim.
Harris typically does a good job reading the pick-and-role, but he’s not aggressive enough calling for the ball, or holding his position in the paint on the ensuing sequence. By being more aggressive in this area, Harris could increase his the number of shots he takes, while still getting a high percentage look.
Another situation where a more aggressive Harris could help the Pistons is when their offense is stagnant. Specifically, when the first two options on offense—a Reggie Jackson drive from a pick-and-role, or a lob to Andre Drummond—aren’t working.
Marcus Morris has filled this role and done a nice job, but he’s also not been the shooter Harris has been, and he doesn’t have the repertoire that Harris possesses on the offensive end.
Because Harris has been so deadly offensively with the Pistons, teams will have to respect his one-on-one game, which should free things ups for his teammates. If teams elect not to double him, a one-on-one series for Harris is a good option, especially when the other options aren’t working.
While Harris doesn’t necessarily need to look to shoot the ball more, being more aggressive during the right situations could help the Pistons create better scoring opportunities. It could also result in more points for Harris per game, while maintaining efficiency.