Tobias Harris Proving He's Already Part of the Orlando Magic's Future

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Tobias Harris Proving He's Already Part of the Orlando Magic's Future
USA TODAY Sports
Harris is making his presence felt in a big way. (Joshua C. Cruey/Orlando Sentinel)

Someone must have taught Orlando Magic forward Tobias Harris that first impressions often leave big marks.

Since being traded to the team at last month's trade deadline, Harris has been nothing short of fantastic. Averaging 16.7 points and hauling in 6.2 rebounds per game while shooting 55.9 percent, he's made the loss of fan-favorite J.J. Redick a little easier.

If for no other reason than his hot start, in just seven games, Harris is proving that he's an integral part of the organization moving forward.

While the deal also sent Beno Udrih and Doron Lamb to Orlando, it's Harris who has emerged as the legitimate scoring presence that the roster is in desperate need of.

At 94.2 points per game, the Magic rank 24th in the league in scoring, and the loss of Redick—who was one of their more consistent scorers—definitely didn't help the cause.

Harris helps by providing a unique skill set on the offensive end. At 6'8", 226 pounds, he's built to play small forward, but with his strength can slide up to power forward if necessary. Neither of Orlando's other two young forwards—Moe Harkless and Andrew Nicholson—can fill both spots as effectively.

What further separates Harris from his young counterparts is his well-rounded offensive game.

While Harkless struggles shooting mid-range jumpers and threes, Harris can do both in a relatively efficient manner.

Where Nicholson lacks quickness and ball-handling skills to get by defenders on the perimeter, Harris doesn't. Nicholson has a better low block game, but Harris is no slouch in the post.

Perhaps the most important feature of Harris' offensive game is his aggressiveness.

When he gets five feet inside the hoop, Harris finishes successfully 66.7 percent of the time.

More significant than that, though, is his knack for drawing fouls. His 3.1 free-throw attempts per game—which he converts at a 72.7 percent clip—are third best for Orlando. For a team ranking dead last in that category, his ability to get to the line is crucial.

Below is a video from Orlando's game against Houston on March 1, in which Harris scored 27 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in a losing effort. The video is highlighted by jumpers and dribble drives, but includes a few nice post moves and some good off-ball movement.

Harris' ability to score in a variety of ways will prove to be very beneficial.

On the opposite side of the ball, Harris probably won't ever find himself on an All-Defensive team. While he did manage to record three blocks in his Magic debut against the Cleveland Cavaliers, that shouldn't be expected on a regular basis.

That's not to say he's a bad defender, though.

As Jonathan Wasserman of NBADraft.net pointed out prior to the 2011 NBA draft, "His long arms and upper-body strength should help him on the defensive side of the ball moving forward."

If he gets burned, his long arms and great athleticism should allow him to mask any defensive deficiencies he might have at this point in his career.

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But with all the positives about his game, it's hard not to wonder why Harris didn't see the court more in Milwaukee. While the Bucks do have more talent than the Magic, they aren't necessarily loaded at small forward.

With the level of play he's displayed so far in Orlando, it's a bit baffling to think he played in only 28 games for the Bucks and failed to see the court more than the aging Marquis Daniels. Does their coaching staff know something no one else does?

Perplexity aside, Harris is displaying the talent that got him selected 19th overall in the summer of 2011. More importantly, for Magic fans, he's showing that he can be part of the team's long-term plans.

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