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Frankel’s 2013-14 projections
After being buried on the bench for the first half of last season, Tobias Harris broke out in a big way after being inserted into the starting lineup for the Orlando Magic. His per 36 numbers with the Milwaukee Bucks always indicated that he could be a big producer, and when finally given the minutes in Orlando, he flourished.
With the Magic, Harris functioned as one of the primary focuses on offense, owning a 23.1 percent usage rate (third-highest after he joined the team). And he used the majority of those possessions wisely last season. Most of Harris’ offense came at the rim or from behind the 3-point line, two of the most efficient spots on the floor to score.
It’s a safe bet that Harris will be an offensive focal point again this season, as the Magic have very few players cut out for high usage roles. How a full season of heavy usage and defenses focusing on him effects his efficiency is a big question mark, as he wasn’t that efficient of a player offensively last season (he posted a .524 True Shooting percentage).
He created a lot of offense for himself with post ups and isolations, so it would have been nice to see at least some distribution skills. Sadly, that wasn’t the case, and this season he is projected to have an assist percentage lower than that of Glen Davis and Nikola Vucevic.
Harris will especially have to become more comfortable with the pick-and-roll as a ballhandler, as that made up less than 3 percent of his offense last season, per Synergy Sports. He’s a threat defenses will pay attention to because of his shooting and driving ability, so if he can improve upon his vision, Harris in the pick-and-roll could be a big weapon for the Magic.
The biggest question going into the season for Harris is what position will he play? Last season, he logged most of his minutes with the Magic at the four. But that may not be feasible with a larger, healthier stable of power forwards this year. It’ll be interesting to see how he transitions to more time at the small forward, especially on defense.
It’s hard to say whether or not Harris was an influential defensive player at power forward last season. His defensive metrics were all over the place: opposing power forwards posted an 18.1 PER against him, and he graded out as neutral according to regularized adjusted plus/minus and above-average on Synergy Sports. And his on/off numbers showed Orlando was 7.5 points per 100 possessions better defensively when he was on the floor.
It could be a case of small sample size. And those numbers may change with different responsibilities this season. But the verdict is still out on Harris’ defensive prowess.
When he has the ball in his hands, he’ll be a mismatch nightmare. He’s too quick for power forwards and too big for small forwards. Harris will have to improve his spot-up 3-point shooting in order to play more on the wing though, as he only shot 33.9 percent on spot-up 3s last season, per Synergy Sports.
This will be a big season for Harris, as we still really aren’t sure what he is yet. Is he a legitimate first option? Is he a small forward or power forward? Was his production last season a case of stat-stuffing on a bad team? Depending on how he performs this season, we’ll have a much clearer view of who Harris is and what his role with the Magic should be going forward.