Analyzing the positive impacts the Tobias Harris trade will have on the Detroit Pistons
The Orlando Magic and the Detroit Pistons were involved in one of the few significant trades that took place right before the deadline this season. In this exchange, the Detroit Pistons gave away veterans Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova and received versatile forward Tobias Harris in return. The Pistons are currently ranked ninth in the Eastern Conference, but this trade will give them the boost they need going into the home stretch of the regular season.
The addition of Harris will certainly have a positive impact on the team’s offense. This season, the team is only ranked 16th in the league in total offense, averaging just 101.8 points per contest. Harris alone is averaging roughly 14 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists per game over 32 minutes. Harris’s stats also compare favorably to the man he is replacing, Ilyasova. Look at the chart below to see the stats of the two players.
Harris is clearly the more efficient scoring option and he will also add to the team’s success when it comes to rebounding the basketball. The team currently ranks fourth in the league in rebounding, averaging 46.7 total rebounds per game. Additionally, Harris brings value to a team that ranks dead last in the free throw percentage category (64.7%). Granted, this low statistic is primarily due to Andre Drummond‘s 35.1% from the line on 7.6 attempts per game, but adding a big man that can make his free throws will be especially helpful for this team. Click on the link below to see some of Harris’s best moments from just one season ago.
Trading for Harris was also a smart move by the Pistons because he will be more of a factor on defense than Ilyasova ever was for the team. While the University of Tennessee product is not known for being a great defender, his versatility as a 6‘8” forward that can play either the three or four position will be very useful for the team.
“He gets off the floor pretty good, he attacks quickly, he’s got a good first step,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said of Harris. “Marcus [Morris] will have to play more minutes at the 4, new team — you’ve always got adjustments when you do stuff at the trade deadline. You know, that’s part of the business.”
In addition to being able to guard both forward spots, his on-ball defense is noticeably better than Ilyasova’s because he is much quicker on foot.
“I’m versatile,” Harris told reporters at a press conference shortly after being traded. “We’ll just figure out which guy everyone is best fit to defend and go from there every night.”
Coach Van Gundy is excited to have Harris on his team and impressed by how well he looks at both forward spots on his new team.
“He’s set to go,” Van Gundy said. “Ready to play either spot tomorrow night.
Harris, 23, will add to a young core of talented players on the Pistons roster. He will be joining Reggie Jackson (25), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (23), and Andre Drummond (22) to name a few. Being young and versatile will definitely help Harris quickly adapt to his new fast-paced team.
In addition to being young and able to keep up with the team’s offense, acquiring Harris also makes sense for the Pistons when it comes to contracts. Trading away both Brandon Jennings and Ersan Ilyasova will have a minimal effect on the team’s salary. According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe, “Jennings is on an expiring contract, and Ilyasova’s deal is almost totally non-guaranteed for next season.” The other aspect of this situation is Harris’s contract. The fact that Harris will be earning $16 million per year on a deal that declines in the last two seasons is a very good value deal for the Pistons. Adding that to the idea that the Pistons now look to have enough fire power to make a playoff push makes it become more apparent that this trade was a complete steal.
“The biggest thing is going out there, playing basketball and having fun,” Harris said. “Just really excited about playing with the guys and just playing winning basketball.”
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