Last week it was announced that Stan Van Gundy had acquired Tobias Harris from the Orlando Magic in exchange for Ersan Ilyasova and Brandon Jennings. Detroit had pursued the Long Islander back in the offseason but he re-signed with Orlando instead, it was disappointing but Van Gundy eventually got his man. Harris is an immediate upgrade for this team in many departments and he will immediately start in one of the forward positions for the team.
It was a rough few months for Harris as he didn’t really fit the Pistons system, they struggled with floor spacing and he was often having to keep hold of the ball for long periods of time which isn’t really his game. He is a good perimeter shooter who can create his own shot off the dribble if needed, Orlando struggled to fit this with Vucevic who is primarily used as a ball stopper in the post. Harris suits an offence where he is simply given the ball in a variety of opportunities and Detroit create a lot of these as Stan Van Gundy runs a four out one in system.
Detroit are currently 9th in the League in three pointers attempted per game which isn’t that surprising for anyone who knows Stan Van Gundy, he likes to have a dominant center in the middle for pick and rolls and he often leaves everyone outside of the mid-range areas, by doing this defences can be stretched and there is adequate space for his offence to drive, pass and force the ball into the big man.
Tobias Harris’ biggest asset according to many is his perimeter shot, this is somewhat true but he has declined in this aspect as he has turned into a 31% perimeter shooter compared to his 36% from last year. What must be made clear is that he did not suit the offence of Orlando in any way what so ever, they run a lot of clear out sets and when he is forced to make those kinds of decisions with little time on the shot clock he usually struggles. Detroit do not run many of these and he will get more good looks from the Detroit ball movement and spacing. Orlando are having big problems with shot creation, they shoot around 19% of their shots from the deep mid range area (16-24 feet). Detroit on the other hand only shoot 11% of their shots from this area which in theory means they are creating good shots on the floor. Detroit are happy to hold onto the ball which suits Harris, he likes having the ball in his hands and doesn’t need to be put in catch and shoot situations which is good as Detroit are 26th in catch and shoot attempts per game. Harris only has an effective field goal percentage of 47 in such situations which leaves him dead last in terms of the Pistons’ wing players. Harris likes to keep hold of the ball, dribble and he can shoot pull up jumpers as well as work in the post, he gives this offence another element.
Harris can also run the pick and roll at a very good level, he was only used as the handler in 8% of his situations in Orlando but he ranks in the 77th percentile amongst NBA players as a ball handler in the pick and roll. These numbers should go up as Van Gundy uses pick and rolls more than any other coach in the whole of the NBA.
Orlando are trying to run an up tempo offence based on ball movement and getting assisted buckets, Harris sadly didn’t fit this as he likes to slow the game down and show off his ability. Van Gundy’s system doesn’t require many passes or touches of the ball and they sit 28th in the League in touches per game, he wants his players to be versatile, intelligent and able to shoot from the perimeter. Tobias Harris fits this criteria and he should offer a lot to Motor City in the coming months.