Tobias Harris was surprisingly efficient and effective in his first four games in a Magic uniform. The forward, under-utilized in Milwaukee, took to having playing time immediately and cashed in on the potential that made him the 19th pick int he 2011 Draft.
Entering Sunday's loss to Memphis, Harris was averaging 20.0 points per game and shooting 69.6 percent. That included back-to-back games with career highs in points.
The Grizzlies clearly took notice. Lionel Hollins said before the game that they knew of Harris and his talent even before his scoring spurt since coming to the Magic. Playing time does wonders for young players.
It also means tons of adjustments int he ups and downs of an 82-game schedule. Harris came back down to earth a little bit agianst the Grizzlies, struggling to get his shot to fall in a 6-point, 3-for-14 performance in the 108-82 loss to the Grizzlies. Harris was not shy about shooting and had all the confidence he had before, he was simply being defended much more aggressively and found himself facing a few double teams too.
"I thought they might have been keying in a little bit [on me]," Harris said. "As a player, that’s what you have to adapt to what the other team is doing. You have to find a way out there.
"[I learned] just to be a little more patient with the looks I have. I thought I had some pretty good looks, they just weren’t falling. You have nights like that. The key thing is coming out tomorrow and having short-term memory in this type of game."
Harris said what is important for him now is coming back with a better performance in the next game tonight against New Orleans. The response to a bad game is what separates good players from mediocre ones. And so the 21 year old has some learning to do tonight.
Harris averaged 11.6 minutes per game with Milwaukee this season and had not played more than 10 minutes in a game since January 5 before arriving in Orlando. In fact, his debut with the Magic against the Cavaliers on February 23 was his first game since the fifth of that month.
Harris is now averaging more than 28 minutes per game. That has given him the freedom to play loose and play his game without worrying about a quick hook for making a mistake. So long as he is learning and playing through his mistakes, the Magic are happy to let him learn by doing.
"It’s not like he never played in Milwaukee," Hollins said before Sunday's game. "He just went to a position where they decided to go in a different direction. This is what guys like him hope for to get to a situation where they get the opportunity to get consistent minutes and show what they can do. We always knew from when he was in college. We knew about him [at Tennessee], we knew about him in Milwaukee and we know about him now. He can score the ball."
Jacque Vaughn compared last night's game for Harris to a baseball player, saying no player is going to go 4 for 4 every night. This was one of those games that are bound to happen in the course of a long season. Arron Afflalo made a similar comparison saying it is rare a player can keep shooting at such an effective rate for an extended period of time.
Afflalo noted that Harris is a mature player and has been hungry for this opportunity.
"I can tell he is a hungry player that wants to improve," Afflalo said. "If he does, he will watch the film and make adjustments for his next opportunity for the court which is coming up tomorrow."
Again, what is important is how Harris responds tonight against New Orleans. Will he come back strong and aggressive early on? What happens if he misses a few shots? Can he contribute in other ways without scoring? That is the next test for a young player developing in this league.