Los Angeles Clippers: Tobias Harris is a superstar in the making

After being traded for Blake Griffin, Tobias Harris has largely impressed during his time with the Los Angeles Clippers

Blake Griffin, a 5-time All-Star and multiple time All-NBA honoree, signed a lucrative five-year, $171 million deal last offseason – with the promise of being a “Clipper for life”. That made his dealing to the Detroit Pistons back in January all the more shocking.

Griffin headed East, with Tobias Harris, Avery Bradley, Boban Marjanovic and a first-round pick heading the way of the Los Angeles Clippers. Despite LA acquiring multiple pieces in the deal, it was clear that Tobias was the undoubted centerpiece.

Harris, 26, was now on his fourth team in seven years – a statistic that would suggest a somewhat average player. But as Tobias showcased during the latter stages of his tenure with Detroit – as well as his time thus far with the Clippers – this couldn’t be further from the case.

Last season, he averaged 18.6 points and 5.5 rebounds, while shooting 46 percent from the field, 41 percent from deep and 83 percent from the line. He’s taken it up another notch thus far this year, putting up 20.7 points as well as 8.9 boards, on 51/41/83 splits. Not only has Tobias upped his scoring and his rebounding, but he’s done so while upping his efficiency.

At 6-foot-9 and about 235 pounds, Harris is as silky as they come. The former Tennessee Vol can put the ball in the hoop in a variety of ways. For the past few seasons, he’s been a knockdown three-point shooter. He’s virtually automatic in the mid-range game. He has an array of smooth post-moves. And this season, he’s finishing at the cup at an elite level (61.5%, according to Basketball Reference).

The allure of Harris for Jerry West and co goes much deeper than his multi-faceted game, though. Harris is a guy who simply loves the game of basketball. His commitment to getting the best out of himself by any means necessary speaks volumes to his passion for the game.

As he got to college, he began experimenting with his diet. He wanted to be the best Tobias Harris he could be.

“My breakdown is probably 60 percent carbs, 30 percent protein, 10 percent plants,” said the star forward.

“I don’t eat red meat, but I still eat chicken. I feel better this way. There’s a lot of fat in red meat, and it just sticks with you before a game.”

As Harris borders on superstar-level talent, he remains a team-oriented guy.

Despite leading the Clippers in scoring, he’s more than happy to defer to the hot hand. If a unit without Tobias is rolling and he doesn’t see the court for an extended period of time, he isn’t fazed. His team-oriented mindset paired with his talent-level is something that’s hard to come by these days.

Harris’ mindset is somewhat an extension of the Los Angeles Clippers as a team. A hard-nosed, blue-collar group who just want to win – precisely what Steve Ballmer envisioned following the break-up of ‘Lob City’.

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Out West, it’s hard to envision a potential All-Star berth for Harris, despite his excellent start to the year. As long as the Tennessee alum continues the upward trajectory that’s seen him improve season upon season, it won’t be too long until he’s regarded as one of the NBA’s elite.