Tobias Harris’ 2017-18 season outlook for the Pistons

AUBURN HILLS, MI - APRIL 5: Tobias Harris
AUBURN HILLS, MI - APRIL 5: Tobias Harris /

In our series of season outlooks for the players on the 2017-18 Detroit Pistons, we’ve run through expectations for each. Finally, we have Tobias Harris.

Last season began with Tobias Harris just 27 games into his tenure with the Detroit Pistons. Acquired at the 2015-16 trade deadline, Harris was productive right off the bat, shooting 47.7 percent from the floor and 37.5 percent from long range, both of which would have been career-highs if they were over a full season.

Last season was an up-and-down campaign for Harris. In spite of being the most productive Piston for much of the season, he found himself playing off the bench for much of the season, starting just 48 of the 82 games he played.

In an interesting twist, this was largely a result of being the Pistons’ most reliable scorer. The starting lineup was a disaster, primarily after Reggie Jackson‘s return from knee tendinitis, and changing the starting lineup without decimating bench scoring was vital. So, Harris was sent to the bench.

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He thrived against second units, feasting along with fellow Voltron lineup members Ish Smith, Stanley Johnson, Aron Baynes (and whatever wing was their fifth). He was more efficient in relief, but this came at a cost. Harris played almost four minutes fewer per game, meaning that a team whose biggest weakness was in the scoring department played their best scorer fewer minutes per game in order to start Jon Leuer.

It didn’t make much sense once Leuer started to fall off almost immediately after being moved into the starting lineup, but Stan Van Gundy never adapted.

Hopefully Van Gundy learned the lessons of a disappointing and frustrating season. While this roster does have some questions at forward, the only sure thing should be that Tobias Harris starts and gets the lion’s share of minutes among the possible trifecta of himself, Leuer and Johnson.

It’s also important that a hefty amount of Ish Smith’s minutes come with Harris, as the duo was effective but Smith struggled mightily without him. With Smith on and Harris off, the Pistons had a woeful 98.1 offensive rating, but when the two played together the Pistons had an impressive 110.2 offensive rating.

This shouldn’t be an overly difficult rotational adjustment for Stan Van Gundy to make, because Reggie Jackson should be playing limited minutes whenever possible as he continues to recover from knee tendinitis. Jackson should be playing fewer minutes than virtually any other starting point guard, and Smith should be playing more minutes than almost any other backup point guard.

Next: Andre Drummond's season outlook for the Pistons

However the Detroit Pistons end up managing their rotations, Tobias Harris should not have his playing time dictated by Jon Leuer’s matchup and hot hand this season like he did last year.