For the Philadelphia Sixers, the bad news dropped yesterday: James Harden, who injured the right leg tendon, will not miss a month of competition. With the 76ers’ investment and hopes behind them, this is a blow. But in the short term, this disadvantage should be beneficial Tyrese Maxey.
Clearly considered the third man in Philadelphia, the 22-year-old guard has taken on more important responsibilities. We have seen this especially in the last matches without a Joel Embiid suffering But without Harden, the Dallas native will have more inflammation on his hands.
And ironically, it might be the best thing for the 76ers collective.
Tyrese Maxey can solve some problems
First of all, it should be said: on an individual level, Harden really hasn’t been ineligible since the start of the season. Back in good physical shape, he made creditable plays and was complete without Embiid. But there’s a problem: he’s not and probably won’t be the dominant player who crushes everyone in Houston again.
At the age of 33, he no longer has the capacity to perform such a role. And at the beginning of the season, the collective game of the 76ers, around the two stars, remained poor. The game plan of Doc Rivers until now? 12 seconds (being nice) to set up a system for Embiid or Harden, with cones around them, before an individual attempt.
There is an exaggeration… but very little. Paradoxically, without the real Ben Simmons (not the relearned Brooklyn Nets), the Sixers are struggling to get into a rhythm. Philadelphia’s transition game is particularly weak and clearly lacks punch in offensive phases.
But on this level, one man represents the hope of this group: Maxey. Even as the 3rd man, he has shown great promise. Rare player with the ability to increase the tempo in this franchise, he has noticeably taken on his responsibilities recently in Embiid’s absence.
“Yeah, he’s growing. He’s really growing. You can see that. In the first half he had a few sloppy plays forcing the game. There’s a lot going on with him. And then he pulled himself together, figured it. how they’re going to play him and took advantage of it”, Rivers judged after the victory over the Washington Wizards (118-111) on November 1.
With him, the Sixers have someone capable of taking the game to himself, dictating his rhythm and above all rushing into spaces.
In the absence of the boss, Tyrese Maxey blew up the counters
The opportunity to test it further
And as we know, Philadelphia is aiming for the title in the short term. With the investment in Harden, this formation wants to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy right away. To dream of a coronation, it will therefore be important to develop Maxey. Maybe even “upgrade”.
Once considered a third option, it may represent the key to the development of this team’s collective game. Just by his profile and his characteristics. Its relationship with Embiid over the next few weeks will be a real test. Because if this duo can find its rhythm without Harden, the dynamic could really evolve.
And most of all, while holding the ball over time, the 76ers collective will find color. By taking advantage of a higher rhythm. But also his ability to change the tempo to free up spaces and therefore create open shots around him.
“In the short time I’ve been here, I don’t know if I’ve seen someone work as hard as him. He really works on his game. He’s so quick and so good with the ball. ‘He’s on, there’s not many people can stand by him…. You don’t want him to slow down.
You want him to continue to be aggressive and be impressive,” said PJ Tucker.
For the Playoffs and possible title, the Sixers can’t just rely on Maxey – Embiid. In building this group, Harden remains important and should contribute. On the other hand, in the near future, we are willing to take the bet that the results of this team will improve without him. And without it being (absolutely) the direct cause.
But more Tyrese Maxey looks like a great solution to Philadelphia’s obvious problems. And even for the future, he embodies the hopes of the 76ers.
Doc Rivers in danger with the Sixers?