Saturday, May 30, 2015

Free Agent Profile: Tobias Harris

Tobias Harris - F - 6'8, 230
FA Ranking: 12

Set to turn 23 years old in the weeks following the start of the free agency period, Tobias Harris may be celebrating that he cashed in during restricted free agency.  Harris hits the market after a career year for a floundering young Magic team.  He played the majority of his minutes at SF for Orlando, and recorded a career-high 3P% en route to another career-high, 17.1 points per game.  With enough size and athleticism to play both forward spots, Harris is a logical fit at either of the Pistons' biggest needs.  He's the right age to grow with Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and he's coming off of a year that makes it look like he's going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.  While everything looks good on the surface, I think that Harris is one of the biggest risks on this year's market.  He may very well pay off for whoever signs him, but the Pistons should proceed with caution if they're interested in the versatile, young forward.


Tobias Harris
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3PAr
3P%
AST%
TRB%
FTr
FT%
DRtg
2013-14
14.6
16.5
22.2%
54.2%
.176
25.4%
7.7%
13.0%
.341
80.7%
107
2014-15
17.1
16.7
22.5%
55.1%
.252
36.4%
8.8%
10.3%
.258
78.8%
108
Career
12.7
16.3
22.2%
54.2%
.211
32.1%
8.4%
11.7%
.290
79.0%
107

Harris had an impressive 2014-15 campaign for Orlando, providing much needed scoring punch in a lineup that didn't feature much outside of Victor Oladipo.  His big year was fueled by a major leap in 3P% that saw him shoot at a rate nearly five percentage points better than his next best season.  That happened as he was posting a 3PAr that was well above his next highest season.  Harris managed to improve his efficiency while also increasing his attempts, a fact that could suggest he's developed his jump shot, or that he may be in for some regression over the course of his next deal.  Harris' move to playing more SF than PF resulted in a dip in his rebounding, but he was still a solid rebounder for his position.  Harris is an average playmaker for the SF position, and matched his AST% with a nearly even TOV%.

In terms of specific offensive situations, Harris had one reliable source of efficient offense, and struggled in the other major areas:

Tobias Harris
Possessions
Pts. Per Poss.
NBA Rank
Isolation
105
0.67
56/58
PnR Ball-handler
150
0.85
21/91
Post-Up
106
1.04
1/71
Spot-Up
303
1.00
36/52

Harris' ability to take advantage of post-up situations is the main advantage to playing him at SF.  While you may see a decreased efficiency in isolation, pick-and-roll and spot-up situations, Harris is an excellent back-to-the-basket option at the SF spot.  To put it simply, there aren't many SFs in the league not named LeBron James who can match Harris' physical nature and athleticism.  The NBA's play-type statistics aren't available for seasons before the most recent one, but I have a feeling that those numbers are somewhat inverse in years when Harris played more PF than SF.  For what it's worth, Harris is an excellent scorer off of cuts, notching 1.49 PPP on 110 cut possessions during the 2014-15 campaign.

While the post-ups on offense are the advantage to playing Harris down at SF, you can see below that he struggled on defense this year:

Tobias Harris
Possessions
PPP Allowed
NBA Rank
Isolation
110
0.85
37/68
PnR Ball-handler
94
0.80
93/171
Post-Up
50
0.78
48/154
Spot-Up
245
0.96
23/51

The most discouraging number here is that Harris was mediocre at defending post-up possessions despite being bigger and stronger than the majority of his opponents.  That number suggests that you  may pay the price if you utilize a small-ball lineup with Harris at PF.  The other numbers suggest that Orlando definitely paid the price for running Harris out at SF.  There isn't a single area above where Harris was anywhere above average.  He should get credit for not being atrocious in any particular area, but I would like to see more out of a guy who is probably positioning himself for a max, or near a max contract.

Chris Sheridan of the aptly-named Sheridan Hoops has gone on the record stating that Harris is going to get max money this summer.  If that deal is signed with the Magic, it would look roughly like five years and $80 million.  If he signs an offer sheet anywhere else, the deal would fall at four years for around $64 million.  The Magic have openly stated that they'll match any offer for Harris after his stellar year; if you haven't followed the NBA long enough to know that you can't trust front office statements, now you do.  As a restricted free agent, Harris is open to sign any offer sheet he wants.  At that point, it turns into a matter of negotiation between the challenging team, the Magic and Harris.  Orlando could very well be grandstanding to make sure they can get something in exchange for Harris in the aforementioned scenario.  Regardless, it doesn't hurt to throw an offer at Harris early and see if something sticks.

If the Pistons were to make a successful run at Harris, let's assume they do so without having to work through a sign-and-trade with the Magic.  That would put Harris on the books in Detroit for four years and $64 million, or $16 million annually.  With $25 million to spend in free agency this summer, that would leave the Pistons with $9 million to fill the remaining holes at the other forward spot, add depth at C and SF.  I'm not willing to add Harris full-time at SF due to my concerns over his shooting, so let's say that he's the starting PF in this arrangement.  Let's also assume that the Pistons acquired Mario Hezonja with the 8th pick and Richaun Holmes with the 38th pick.  Here's what the rest of a free agency period built around signing Tobias Harris might look like:
  • PF Tobias Harris: 4 years, $64 million
  • SF Al-Farouq Aminu: 3 years, $15 million
  • C Bismack Biyombo: 2 years, $8 million
  • C Jeff Withey: 2 years, $2 million
After all of those acquisitions, the Pistons would be left with a depth chart that looks as follows:

Position
1st
2nd
3rd
PG
Reggie Jackson
Brandon Jennings
Spencer Dinwiddie
SG
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Jodie Meeks
Cartier Martin
SF
Al-Farouq Aminu
Mario Hezonja
Quincy Miller
PF
Tobias Harris
Anthony Tolliver
Richaun Holmes
C
Andre Drummond
Bismack Biyombo
Jeff Withey

Here's where you really see the risk of signing Tobias Harris: if his shooting reverts to where it was in his first three years in the league, where is the shooting in that starting five?  Even if you swap Aminu out for a stronger shooting SF, there just isn't enough spacing to make the offense work the way Stan Van Gundy wants it to.  It's even worse if you assume Harris is brought in at SF.  If you build a scenario around that, the Pistons would absolutely have to trade for a PF who can stretch the floor.  It's just hard to build a lineup that makes sense around Harris when you don't know how he's going to shoot the ball.  If you could get him for less than what he's going to get and also grab a stretch four like Paul Millsap, I may be more interested.

While Tobias Harris is an intriguing young talent and the Pistons aren't in a position to not be interested in a guy of his age and caliber, I don't think it would be in Detroit's best interest to make a move for him.  At around $16 million per season, if his shooting falls apart, the offense could very well stall out, especially if KCP can't get above the 34.5% mark he posted this year.  If you talk about Harris as a guy who you have to put together a sign-and-trade for, he really doesn't make sense.  If Harris' shooting does hold at this year's mark or better, everything I've written here is going to look very silly.  However, I just don't think the upside is worth the risk, and I hope the Pistons have different plans to fill the forward positions.

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