When the Philadelphia 76ers acquired James Harden at the trade deadline, there were instant positive benefits. Along with having a former MVP to be Joel Embiid’s running mate, he took a lot of responsibility off other players’ plates.
At the beginning of the season, Tyrese Maxey was thrust into a role he did not initially expect. Due to Ben Simmons’ absence, Doc Rivers had a large void to fill in his starting lineup. With limited ballhandlers at his disposal, he entrusted the second-year guard to be the full-time starting point guard.
While Maxey held his own at point guard, sharing the backcourt with Harden allowed him to embrace his combo-guard nature. In a recent interview with Brandon Robinson of Bally Sports, Maxey talked about how the addition of Harden was a major catalyst in his game taking a big step forward.
“When James even came in, I think I really got a clear vision of when I had to be aggressive to score and then aggressive to create for others. I think it really did help me and my game blossomed. It helped me open up and see the floor better,” said Maxey.
James Harden Helped Turn Maxey Into an Emerging Star
Tyrese Maxey was already in the midst of massive improvements in year two, and his game grew even more once Harden entered the fray. With the All-Star guard running the offense, Maxey got to showcase his electric scoring ability on a nightly basis. Not to mention, the gravity Harden draws on the court created an endless amount of mismatches and open looks.
In the 24 games after the All-Star break, Maxey averaged 18.7 PPG and 3.5 APG. While his scoring numbers increased, so did his percentages. During that same stretch, the 21-year-old shot 52.3% from the field and 48% from beyond the arc.
Even though they were thrown together on the fly, Maxey and Harden have proven to be a phenomenal backcourt pairing. Having a player of that caliber on the floor and in his ear daily should help Maxey reach his full potential down the line.
Tyrese Maxey Makes James Harden Decision Easier for Sixers
While Daryl Morey has many decisions to make this offseason, what to do with Harden sits atop the list. If he turns down his $47 million player option for next year, Harden will become an unrestricted free agent this summer. While he plans to stay in Philadelphia no matter what, the two sides will have to come to terms on a deal that is beneficial for all.
Seeing the way Maxey grew upon Harden’s arrival should make their decision a little easier. Harden might not be the prolific scorer he once was, but he is still a high-impact player in the NBA. Now, he has adapted his game to being an offensive maestro with his passing.
Based on what we saw this year, it’s fair to say Maxey is on the fast track to being a high-scoring guard for the foreseeable future. That being said, he will be capable of being the second option behind Embiid as Harden continues to age. This should be the Sixers at ease as they prepare to potentially sign Harden long-term to make multiple runs at a championship.