The THE* (referring to the Tobias Harris ERA) is officially in full swing. We have only seen it in action for four games and only two of them have been with him as a starter, but there is an undeniable change happening with this team - and with Tobias's game - and at a far quicker pace than expected.
Did anyone think he would be this good, this fast, and in so many facets of the game?
So far, in those four games as a Piston, Harris is averaging 18.3/5.5/1.8 with a shooting line of 55/33/80. He's scoring 4.6 ppg more than he did with the Magic (in roughly the same number of minutes) and is doing so with far greater efficiency.
And yes, small sample size(!), but both the stat sheet and the eye test confirm that Stan Van Gundy is once again getting more from a young player (hello, Reggie!) than did his previous team, presumably because SVG understands the player's strengths and how to use them.
It's tenuous to say it's all because of his arrival, but everyone seems to be more comfortable playing their game: Reggie Jackson is more comfortable as a point guard and less of a scorer, Andre Drummond seems like he's got less pressure to be a go-to scorer in the post and is returning to being an all-around beast in both painted areas (and improving his free throw percentage), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can focus on defense and outside daggers, and Marcus Morris seems to be embracing passing and being a jack of all trades.
This new found ease of play might actually be emanating from the comfort Stan Van Gundy has in his new power forward:
"I feel comfortable when he has the ball," Van Gundy said. "Even when everybody else was flying around crazy in the second half, the ball got to him and things like settled down. He makes his move and makes a play. A pretty efficient offensive guy and he’s working at it at the defensive end."
Stan is known to be, shall we say, an "animated" guy, and has apparently been known to sometimes wear thin on his players. I wouldn't discount the possibility that Stan's comfort with Tobias has allowed him to ease back on the guys a bit and let them play and have more fun. I had definitely noticed that the guys looked like they were generally miserable out there for weeks prior to his arrival. Who can say how much of it is attributable to Harris, but the team seems to be settling into a groove. Oh, and the ball is moving more, too.
Quoted in an article by Vince Ellis on Thursday, Harris credits Milwaukee assistant coach Bill Peterson with this:
"The one thing he always told me was you got three dribbles, and if you can’t get it off in that, then move it"
One of the biggest complaints many of us armchair point guards have had with this team is that the ball regularly gets the air pounded out of it. Harris continues:
"That always stuck with me, and I think it only helps a team out. The more you’re dribbling around, just stringing it out, it gets stagnant. When I watch film, I can see that when we move the ball and get it around, it only helps our offense."
Plus he gives a damn good post game interview:
How do you all feel about Tobias so far? How much of the Pistons' recent positive play would you attribute to his presence?
*The THE was coined in the comments section of the write up of the Pistons 96-88 victory over the Cavs on Monday by the beastman17. Well done, sir!