What can Tobias Harris become for Detroit Pistons?

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

It wasn’t long ago that some believed Detroit Pistons’ forward Tobias Harris could be a special player. You could argue the Pistons were among that group of believers when they made a trade for him in 2016. After being delegated to the second unit at times last season, albeit in a primary role, one has to wonder what Harris is as an NBA player, and who he can become for the Pistons.

When the Detroit Pistons landed Tobias Harris, many thought the team found their go-to scorer in the front court. The Pistons now had two players to get their own offense in Reggie Jackson and Harris, and excellent ancillary pieces such as Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Andre Drummond to play off both players, with the hope that Drummond would one day transform into a dominant low post player.

The theory sounded good, but then Jackson got hurt, Drummond took a step back, and virtually all of the Pistons’ core players lacked progression.

That is, except for Harris who found himself in virtually the same situation in terms of role and usage on the team, despite the regression and injuries on the Pistons.

That begs the question, why not give him a chance to do more?

It’s a question that crept its way into my mind throughout last season. What a perfect time to see what Harris can do with Jackson out, and Drummond playing so poorly.

But we have to remember that Harris is thriving in a secondary role, both in terms of production and efficiency. Asking Harris to do more might translate into more production, but at the cost of efficiency.

After all, Harris isn’t exactly the fastest, most explosive forward in the league, nor does he posses the most crafty moves and handles.

Still, Harris has refined his game with excellent shot selection and setup moves. He’s also known to be an exceptionally hard worker.

He may not be the best athlete, but he could morph into an efficient 20-point scorer if the right pieces are around him.

Let me explain. I have serious doubts about his ability to carry a team–that means both offensively and defensively.

However, he’s a savvy player that will make the right play, before forcing his own shot. Giving Harris the ball more and letting him be a facilitator, and in turn, giving him more opportunities, could make a lot of sense for the Pistons with the players around him–Jackson, Avery Bradly (both good spot up shooters), and Drummond off the pick-and-role.

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To directly answer the question, “what can Tobias Harris become for the Detroit Pistons”, I would say he could be exactly the player I outlined above–an efficient 20-point scorer with a defined role on the Pistons. Not they key cog on the team, but an essential piece of many good pieces, sort of like Rip Hamilton on the 2004 championship team.