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After Acquiring Tobias Harris, 76ers Still Not Top 5 in 2019 NBA Championship Odds

Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons box out Otto Porter Jr.
Help is on the way for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Photo by Keith Allison (flickr)
  • Philadelphia’s title odds improved significantly following their acquisition of forward Tobias Harris 
  • The 26-year-old forward is averaging a career-high 20.9 points per game
  • Harris gives the Sixers the most formidable starting five this side of Golden State 

The 76ers are officially going all in on the 2018-19 NBA season.

Philadelphia made its championship aspirations loud and clear on Wednesday morning by acquiring forward Tobias Harris from the Los Angeles Clippers in a trade that promises to have major ramifications on the Eastern Conference standings.

The deal sees Harris, center Boban Marjanovic, and forward Mike Scott head to the Sixers in exchange for guard Landry Shamet and forwards Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. Los Angeles will also receive two first round picks and two second round selections.

Oddsmakers appear to approve of the deal, but not as much as you may think. Philly’s average odds to win the 2019 NBA Championship improved from +2000 on January 1st to just +1600 on February 6th across a number of top online sportsbooks. That’s a significant jump, but the 76ers are still stuck behind the Raptors, Celtics, and Bucks with the fourth shortest title odds in the East.

2019 NBA Championship Odds

Team Odds
Golden State Warriors -220
Toronto Raptors +800
Boston Celtics +1000
Milwaukee Bucks +1100
Los Angeles Lakers +1100
Houston Rockets +1300
Philadelphia 76ers +1600

*Click on the link in the table to see odds for all 30 NBA teams

Tobias Harris Gives the Sixers the East’s Best Starting Five

Much has been made of Golden State’s fearsome fivesome – and for good reason – but Tobias Harris gives the Sixers a starting rotation capable of going toe-to-toe with anyone in the league.

The 26-year-old forward has blossomed into a bona fide star this season, as evidenced by his career-highs in points (20.9), field goal percentage (49%) and three-point percentage (43%). Harris’ vastly improved range made him especially attractive to the Sixers, who need all the spacing they can get to make up for Ben Simmons’ glaring deficiencies. Harris should also prove useful on the boards, where his ability to snag rebounds and start the break plays to the Sixers strengths.

Tobias Harris Career Stats

2011-12 Bucks 5.0 2.4 0.5
2012-13 Bucks/Magic 11.0 5.2 1.3
2013-14 Magic 14.6 7.0 1.3
2014-15 Magic 17.1 6.3 1.8
2015-16 Magic 14.7 6.7 2.2
2016-17 Pistons 16.1 5.1 1.7
2017-18 Pistons/Clippers 18.6 5.5 2.4
2018-19 Clippers 20.9 7.9 2.7

Harris was robbed of a spot in this year’s NBA All-Star Game, but make no  mistake about it, he’s a low-maintenance, multi-talented player who should fit in seamlessly in Philadelphia.

Philly Improved its Frontcourt Depth By Acquiring Marjanovic and Scott

Harris was the crown jewel of Wednesday’s trade, but the Sixers also netted a pair of useful bigs in Boban Marjanovic and Mike Scott.

Let’s begin with the 7’3″ Marjanovic, who is the most efficient scorer in NBA history. Let that sink in for a second. Not even Wilt Chamberlain or Michael Jordan scored more per shot attempt than the super-sized Serbian, who is currently averaging 23.2 points, 14.6 rebounds, and 1.6 swats per 36 minutes.

Granted, Marjanovic is unlikely to log more than 10 minutes per game for Philly, but his ability to give Joel Embiid the occasional breather will be a huge plus for a team that has played all season without a traditional back-up center.

The dude is also one of the friendliest humans you’ll ever meet, which is a bonus for a team that has to deal with the daily demands and mood swings of Jimmy Butler.

In Mike Scott, the Sixers have landed a superb floor stretcher who can keep defenses honest. The “Threegional Manager” is shooting 39% from beyond the arc and will help fill the void left behind by Robert Covington, who was traded earlier this season to acquire Butler. Scott doesn’t have the same defensive chops as Covington (few do), but he’s the kind of player who can blow games open when he gets hot.

Should You Bank on the Sixers?

Philly has an outstanding starting five on paper with Ben Simmons, JJ Redick, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid, but it remains to be seen how those pieces will come together. Keep in mind that the Celtics needed nearly 50 games to successfully reincorporate Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward into their lineup, despite the fact both players knew the team’s playbook backwards and forwards.

Keep in mind that the Celtics needed nearly 50 games to successfully reincorporate Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward into their lineup.

Philly’s own attempts to add a star earlier this season were also far from seamless as both Butler and Embiid publicly complained about their roles in the offense. How will they feel now when Harris begins taking even more of their precious touches?

The Sixers still have to address their precarious lack of backcourt depth as well. Shamet isn’t a star, but he was averaging a productive 20.5 minutes per game, and who knows when – or even if – Markelle Fultz will ever suit up again?

For now, the Bucks remain a far better bet to emerge out of the East. Milwaukee is 17-3 since Christmas Day and ranks first league-wide in defensive rating, net rating, plus/minus, and rebounds, and is second in scoring.

The Bucks also made a trade deadline deal of their own by swapping seldom-used center Thon Maker for Stanley Johnson. The 22-year-old small forward is a rugged wing defender who will earn minutes backing up Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo. He’s the kind of smart, under-the-radar pick up that will make Milwaukee even harder to knock off. Now is the time to throw big bucks on Milwaukee to come out of the East.

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