NBA: Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic

Tobias Harris Finally Escapes From the Shadows

By Ricky O’Donnell at SBNation – Tobias Harris could always play, but the trick was convincing his teams of that fact. But after a midseason trade sent him to Orlando, life changed for Harris. Now, he’s one of the league’s rising stars.

It takes a degree of bad luck for a basketball player with the pedigree and talent of Tobias Harris to remain as anonymous as he’s been through two NBA seasons.

National top 10 recruits with Harris’ build and skill level are more likely to draw bidding wars from shoe companies as teenagers than get hopelessly buried at the end of the bench in the pros. They tend to get drafted in the lottery and claim a certain amount of bought-in playing time to help accelerate their development. Yet factors outside of Harris’ control are always seeming to conspire against him and keep him a relative unknown.

But this doesn’t appear like it will be the case for long. If you aren’t familiar with Tobias Harris yet, you will be soon. After a strong close to last season after a deadline deal that sent him from Milwaukee to Orlando in exchange for J.J. Redick, Harris finally got the first real playing time of his career. He now looks like a rock solid starter, if not future All-Star, for the Magic.

With maximized spacing becoming the league’s hottest trend over the last few seasons, Harris profiles as the ideal stretch power forward for the next generation. He’s reportedly entered training camp at 240 pounds and proved he has to be defended out to the three-point line when Orlando has the ball. In just 27 games as a 20-year-old with the Magic last season, Harris made the Bucks and their fans immensely regret the decision to trade him.

It’s about time Harris earned a long leash. For most of his career, Harris has been overshadowed by something, well, pretty stupid.

Harris was ranked as high as No. 4 in his high school class before starting his college career at Tennessee. He had terrible timing. His lone year with the Volunteers was marred by a scandal surrounding Bruce Pearl, which ended with the coach getting fired with what was essentially a three-year ban by the NCAA mostly because he invited current Ohio State star Aaron Craft to a barbecue on an unofficial recruiting visit and later lied about it.

Harris ditched school for the draft after his freshman year and was scooped up by the Bucks at No. 19. Milwaukee desperately needed a young star, but never allowed Harris the chance to turn into one. Instead, the Bucks locked Harris to the bench while vigorously chasing the No. 8 seed in the East. When Harris was dealt for Redick, few blinked because he remained such an unknown quantity.

All it took to change that was playing time. Harris went from regularly getting DNP’s in Milwaukee to averaging 36 minutes per game as a starter in Orlando. His scoring average would jump from 4.9 to 17.3 in the process.

The Magic had no such delusions about chasing a sure first round exit, letting Harris do his thing. He had the look of a player burning with motivation to prove something. Harris never hesitated to fire with in Orlando, averaging more than 17 shots per game in the closing month of the season. He was able to score and rebound with solid efficiency given his age and lack of experience — 45.3 percent from the field, 31 percent from three — while also pulling down 8.5 rebounds per game.

The Magic were better because of it. Orlando was nearly four points better per 100 possessions offensively with Harris on the floor, and their defense was five points per 100 stingier, according to the NBA’s media-only stats page. It’s hard to ask for much more out of a 20-year old with such limited experience in his first season and a half as a pro.

The Magic still aren’t expected to compete for a playoff spot this season, but the emergence of Harris is another boon for a foundation that suddenly looks very encouraging. The Magic were thought to be left in ruins after Dwight Howard forced his way out of town, but GM Rob Hennigan has done a stellar job to replenish the talent supply. Nikola Vucevic was a coop for Hennigan in the Howard trade and profiles as legit starting-caliber two-way center. Arron Afflalo’s efficiency dipped some last season, but he’s still dependable at the wing. Andrew Nicholson and Marurice Harkless are nice looking young pieces on the bench. The team thinks the world of Victor Oladipo, the hyper-athletic Indiana guard it selected No. 2 overall in this summer’s draft.

Throw in what’s likely another high draft in a loaded 2014 class a year from now and it would seem that Harris won’t be lacking for co-stars. It’s his versatility to work as a stretch four that could make things really fun.

The time for paying dues is over. What comes next for Tobias Harris will be determined by nothing but what he does with the opportunity.


NBA PM: Tobias Harris Hopes to Be All-Star

By Alex Kennedy, Senior NBA Writer at – In the second half of last season, Tobias Harris transformed from a seldom-used reserve with the Milwaukee Bucks to the primary option with the Orlando Magic. After being dealt to the Magic at last year’s trade deadline, Harris averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. In April, once Harris was more comfortable in Orlando, he averaged 19.8 points, 9.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game.

Harris has shown that he can be a special player, perhaps even a franchise cornerstone for the rebuilding Magic. At 21 years old, his best basketball is certainly ahead of him and he still has a lot of growing to do as a player. He believes that he can become an All-Star as early as the 2013-14 season after spending countless hours in the gym and expanding his game this summer.

“Going into the season, being an All-Star is one of my top individual goals,” Harris said. “I think I have the ability, and the team and the coaching staff have embraced me as a player. I think it’s important to go into the season with those types of goals, but at the same time, to push myself as a player and push our team to be the best team that we can be.”

When asked how good he can ultimately be as a player, Harris reiterated his goal.

“An All-Star,” Harris said. “I can be an All-Star in this league and then just go from there. I have the ability. I’m in the right situation with the right teammates and the right coaches. I have a lot of confidence in my game. I’ve put a lot of hours in the gym this summer and I’m ready so I’m just ready for this season to start … I’ve been working on my game so much this summer whether it be my shooting, post-up game, dribbling, ball handling, I’ve just really been putting a lot of effort in so I’m expecting a lot out of me.”

It remains to be seen if Harris will be spending most of his time at power forward or small forward. The coaching staff has told Maurice Harkless that he’ll be playing more shooting guard this season, which could suggest a move back to the three for Harris after he spent most of his time at the four last year. Either way, Harris is comfortable and confident that he can be effective.

“I’ll play whatever position Coach [Jacque] Vaughn wants me to play,” Harris said. “Whatever position that’s going to help us as a team get better. I can play the three, I can play the four, whichever position. I’m comfortable playing both positions, and I can excel at both positions on the basketball court. … I feel like in the NBA now, it kind of depends on what other teams are doing. If another team is playing a power four and then they bring in a stretch four, you have to adjust to what they’re doing.”

Harris has emerged as a leader in Orlando, which is somewhat strange considering that he was on the end of the bench at this time last year. However, he thinks he’s ready for a leadership role.

“I’ve always been a guy to speak up and say what’s on my mind so being a leader is something that I was born with, those leadership qualities,” Harris said. “Coming into this year, I just look to lead by example, coming in first place in any drill we do, knowing that guys are watching and keying into what I’m doing.”

This offseason, Harris wasn’t the only Magic player working out for long periods of time in Orlando’s practice facility. Every member of the team’s young nucleus stayed in town to train together. Harris believes their work over the summer will help the team as they try to jell and grow together.

“It’s real important, especially being a young team, to come in here this whole summer, work out, get better as a team and hang out with each other to build chemistry,” Harris said. “I think that’s the key to the game in the NBA: chemistry with the team and with the players. We all like each other and we’re all having fun out there on the basketball court, so it makes the game a lot easier.”

Orlando finished the 2012-13 season with a 20-62 record, the worst record in the entire league. Now, entering this season, Harris and his Magic teammates are determined to improve on that mark. Harris mentioned that he’s hoping to make the playoffs, but the more realistic goal that every player has talked about at some point or another is just making progress this year.

“Twenty wins is not where we want to be,” Harris said. “We’re coming together as a team and doing all we can to get better as a unit and build chemistry. I think it’s going to help us out a lot. It’s going to help us build chemistry as a team, but at the same time it’s going to improve our basketball game so I think a lot of us improved whether it be in the weight room or on the basketball court. We’ve gotten better and that’s all you can ask for. … It’s definitely a motivation when you’re going into the season and you only won 20 games. As a team, we know we have to get better, we have to progress so going into this year, that’s our goal – to get better and keep building as a team and as a unit.”

Many people are expecting the Magic to have another season with plenty of losses, especially because the 2014 draft class will likely be loaded with franchise-changing players like Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker and Julius Randle among others. However, Harris believes people are underestimating the Magic and he doesn’t like all of the talk about losing or tanking.

“It doesn’t sit [well] with me,” Harris said. “As a player, I know what our goal is, as a team, I know each and every game we got to progress and we got to get better. We kind of have a jump start with our young guys being here and working out. We know going into the season, everybody has us written us off, but we got to prove people wrong. That’s just the bottom line.”

Alongside Harris, the Magic have other young players who are extremely talented. Harkless is entering his second year in the league and he was really impressive in the second half of last season, averaging 13.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 1.6 steals after the All-Star break. Victor Oladipo, the second overall pick in this year’s draft, has won over his teammates and seems poised to be a key contributor for the Magic this season and for many years to come.

“I love their games,” Harris said. “Oladipo is a great player, he’s going to bring a lot to the table for us. Whatever position he plays – the one or the two – he’s a guy that can do a lot of things on the court. Moe’s ceiling is very high as a basketball player. He’s worked on his game a lot this summer, so he’s going to be real exciting to see this season.”

It seems ridiculous now, but the Magic were actually criticized when they first acquired Harris from Milwaukee. There were many reports that stated Orlando wanted a first-round pick in return for fan-favorite J.J. Redick so when the Bucks’ package didn’t include a draft pick, fans were understandably disappointed and media members were underwhelmed. It didn’t help that most people had no idea who Harris was since he had such a small role with the Bucks.

Now, it’s obvious that Harris was a steal for the Magic. It’s incredible how far the 21-year-old has come as a player. In two years with the Bucks, Harris scored in double-digits just 12 times. In less than two months with the Magic, he achieved that feat 24 times in 27 games, and he was team’s best player on most nights.

He’s setting the bar high for himself this year, setting very lofty individual goals. However, nobody predicted Harris breaking out the moment he put on a Magic jersey last season so who knows what the future holds for him?


Tobias Harris Wants to Be All-Star in First Full Season with Orlando Magic

By Cody Williams of – In his first season and a half in the NBA with the Milwaukee Bucks, Tobias Harris didn’t see the floor much at all. He played in just 70 total games in Milwaukee, seeing the floor for around 11.5 minutes per game. However, when he was traded to the Orlando Magic as part of the J.J. Redick trade, he showed what enormous potential he has in this league.

At just 20 years old when he was playing last season, Harris put up some impressive numbers in Orlando. In 27 games, 20 of which he started in, he averaged 17.3 points, 8.5 boards, 2.1 assists, 1.4 blocks and 0.9 steals in 36.1 minutes per game. For good measure, he also shot a solid 45.3 percent from the floor, though he did only hit on 31 percent of his three-point attempts.

As such a young player, Harris showed a ton of talent on both ends of the floor. He has a nice jumper, but can also attack the rim well as a combo-forward on the offensive end. Moreover, he also showed solid ability defensively, able to create problems with his length and athleticism. However, having another “solid year for a young player” isn’t what Harris wants. He has his heights set higher.

In an interview with Orlando Pinstriped Post from media day, Harris said that his “top individual goal” was to be an All-Star this season. He added that he knows he has the talent and thinks that the young team around him will help him achieve his goal and also said the coaches have put him in a situation to get there.

Considering that this will be Harris’ first full season shouldering a heavy workload, it will be interesting to see if he can sustain the performance he showed for the Magic last year over an 82-game season. If he’s able to do that and also show improvement as he matures and adjusts further, an All-Star appearance might not be all too crazy. Sure, he’ll have some competition, but he’s shown that he has that kind of potential.

Bleacher Report

Why Tobias Harris Is the Key to Orlando Magic’s Entire Roster and Future

By Jordan Rodewald of BleacherReport – Despite playing in only 27 games as a member of the Orlando Magic, Tobias Harris holds the key to the future of the franchise.

Acquired from the Milwaukee Bucks at last season’s trade deadline, he immediately provided the Magic with a spark. Averaging 17.3 points, 8.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists on 45.3 percent shooting, he quickly helped fans overcome the loss of J.J. Redick.

Now, heading into his first full season with the team, he’s an essential piece to solving the puzzle that general manager Rob Hennigan has begun working on.

Not only does his role dictate the roster’s current state, but it will impact how things look in the future.

But how?

His ability to play either forward position well is a benefit, yet it is troublesome because it influences the development of other young talent. That, in turn, forces management into making difficult decisions in regard to current, veteran players.

Taking a deeper look provides more insight.

Small Forward or Power Forward: Which One Is It?

After trotting 28 different starting lineups onto the court in 2012-13, it’s clear that head coach Jacque Vaughn is a fan of trial and error.

What’s still unclear—based on coaching decisions—is whether Harris is a small forward or power forward.

That’s something that should cause a little bit of concern.

While Harris was used most often at power forward, he started two games at small forward and even one at center. Additionally, it’s likely that he bounced around between the 3 and 4 during games due to substitution.

Was Vaughn using the latter portion of last season to get a feel for his new-look team? Absolutely.

Still, the inability to find a sticking spot for Harris can negatively influence the development of the other youngsters on Orlando’s roster.

If Harris is a 3, where does that leave Maurice Harkless? If he’s is a 4, where does that leave Andrew Nicholson?

Those are just two questions that arise due to the indecisiveness of where to play Harris.

Eventually a decision needs to be made, and ultimately it should result in him becoming the team’s small forward of the future.

With a solid 6’8″, 226-pound frame, Harris could play the vast majority of his minutes at power forward. This would be especially true if he was able to average the rebounding numbers he put up with the Magic last season.

But without a consistent enough post game, it’s hard to justify him as a legitimate power forward.

The above video demonstrates why he is a much more effective player at small forward. His explosive first step, mid-range jump shot and ability to create off the dribble are all definite strengths.

Not only that, but he moves well without the ball and usually is creative and quick with his cuts into the lane or to the hoop. Playing small forward would better allow him to capitalize on those abilities.

Solidifying himself at the 3 will also be beneficial for the other young players on Orlando’s roster.

Not Finding a Position Is Detrimental to the Franchise

More important than the success and development of Harris is that of the franchise, and the two are highly correlated.

Continually shuffling Harris around the lineup makes it much more difficult for his young teammates to find their long-term positions.

In turn, that complicates the way management moves forward with trades, draft picks and free-agent signings.

As briefly touched on earlier, the indecisiveness of where to play Harris directly impacts the likes of Harkless and Nicholson. When he’s bouncing around the lineup, so are they.

Playing Harris at power forward creates a logjam there, with Nicholson and Glen Davis slotted in at the position as well.

Three players—two of whom are youngsters—battling for minutes doesn’t exactly sound like good competition. In fact, it will take away Nicholson’s minutes and will hamper the progress he made last year.

If Harris plays small forward, it moves Harkless elsewhere—like to shooting guard.

That’d be great if Arron Afflalo and Victor Oladipo weren’t occupying that position. Where will Harkless get his minutes? And when he does, which other player will suffer?

See the problem?

Tinkering with lineups is something that coaches do, but Vaughn will need to find one and stick to it this season.

Management’s best option is to trade Davis and Afflalo in order to free up minutes for the Magic’s other youngsters. That is assuming those guys are part of long-term plans.

The Magic figure to compete for the league’s worst record in 2013-14 and will likely have a pick near the top of the draft. Where Harris cements himself in the lineup will have some bearing on what position the team decides to focus on come draft night as well.

Ultimately, Harris is the key element in not only the state of Orlando’s current roster but where the organization goes in the future.

And really, it all boils down to what Vaughn feels works best.

That decision will have long-term ramification

NBA: Orlando Magic at Chicago Bulls

NBA Jersey Buying Guide: Magic Fans Should Cop Tobias Harris’, Says One Writer

By Evan Dunlap from…

Fans looking to invest in a Magic jersey should pick Harris’ blue threads, a USA Today writer says.

USA Today writer Sean Highkin has submitted the definitive NBA jersey-buying guide. His 7000-word story breaks down his picks for current and throwback uniforms for each of the league’s 30 teams.

He believes that hoops fans looking to add an Orlando Magic jersey to their collections should seek Tobias Harris’ blue model. “Not only did he show promise after being traded from the Bucks at the 2013 deadline, but he wears No. 12,” says Highkin. “It’s a great way to stick it to Dwight Howard for the way he treated that fanbase on the way out while also buying into Rob Hennigan’s vision for the future. It’s perfect.”

Evan Dunlap and Tyler Lashbrook are always taking your Magic questions for the site’s Mailbag feature. Send ’em to

The blue jersey represents the best of Orlando’s current set of uniforms, but Highkin says that’s not a ringing endorsement, given that “none of them are great.”

Highkin much prefers Orlando’s original uniforms, which he calls “the best jerseys in NBA history” (emphasis his). If the idea of buying a new Harris jersey doesn’t appeal to Magic fans, Highkin recommends they seek throwbacks of Penny Hardaway or Shaquille O’Neal.

Which Magic jerseys do you own? Which is your favorite? What’s the weirdest jersey you’ve ever seen anyone wear at a Magic game? Let’s hear your answers to those questions, and any other jersey-related thoughts you have, in the comments.

Tobias Harris

Tobias Harris Could Be NBA’s “Most Promising” Small Forward, ESPN Analyst Says

By Evan Dunlap of OrlandoPinstripePost…In a roundtable discussion of the league’s small forwards, ESPN analyst Tom Haberstroh named Tobias Harris of the Orlando Magic as the league’s “most promising” player at the position. Three other panelists named Paul George of the Indiana Pacers, while another suggested Harrison Barnes of the Golden State Warriors.

“Though the average NBA fan probably doesn’t know his name,” Haberstroh says of Harris, “the 20-year-old averaged 17 [points] and 8 [rebounds] for the Magic last season with a 17.0 player efficiency rating. That’s promise.”

At the NBA trading deadline, Orlando acquired Harris, Doron Lamb, and Beno Udrih from the Milwaukee Bucks for J.J. Redick, Gustavo Ayón, and Ish Smith. Harris’ half-season in pinstripes went well, and he became the second-youngest Magic player in history to reach the 30-point mark in a single game. Later, in a game against his former club on April 10th, Harris had 30 points, 19 boards, and five assists in an overtime victory.