Tyrese Maxey’s Improvement, Early Chemistry With Harden Leads to Formation of “Big Three” for Sixers

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

One of the pleasant surprises of the past two games, the first of James Harden's career with the Philadelphia 76ers, has been how well Tyrese Maxey has adjusted to playing with Harden on the floor.

Maxey was playing point guard before the Harden trade, and now he is back to playing his more natural off-ball role. This move has allowed him to focus more on his scoring ability whether it be in the half-court offense or by quickly getting out in transition.

"He’s back home when you think about," head coach Doc Rivers said after the win over the Knicks. "He’s actually playing the position now that he’s played his whole life, so, in some ways, he’s very comfortable playing the way he’s playing."

Maxey has excelled in his first two games with Harden, averaging 24.5 points on 66.7 percent shooting from the field and 62.5 percent shooting from three-point range.

He has meshed well with Harden, especially in transition where Harden's vision combines well with Maxey's quickness getting up and down the floor. Maxey, in the two games with Harden, is shooting 9-of-12 on shots with between 22 and 18 seconds left on the shot clock (NBA.com defines that as being very early in the shot clock).

The second-year guard has also been one of the primary beneficiaries of the gravity created by having both Joel Embiid and Harden on the floor. There have been multiple possessions where Harden draws the defense in on a drive to the basket before kicking it out to Maxey, who then has an easy straight line to the basket.

Maxey has also grown a ton as a three-point shooter. He bumped his three-point percentage up 10 points from his rookie season while simultaneously doubling his volume, going from 30.1 percent on 1.7 attempts per game as a rookie to 40.0 percent on 3.6 attempts per game this season. Harden's addition will open up a lot more open threes for everyone else on the roster due to his passing vision and the extra space created by his ability to score. Just look at the play below, where Maxey knocks down a wide open three off a pass from Harden.

Maxey is shooting 40.2 percent on catch-and-shoot threes this season, and he should be getting plenty of easy looks playing next to both Harden and Embiid.

It was clear the Sixers would have a superstar duo once they paired Harden and Embiid together. Embiid is continuing to play at an MVP level and everyone knows what Harden is capable of when fully engaged, which he has shown to be since the trade to Philadelphia. The duo has surprisingly already shown a good level of chemistry through just two games together, with the early results consisting of a lot of success with the pick-and-roll.

However, Maxey's early chemistry with Harden was unexpected and has given rise to a potential "big three" in Philadelphia. The trio put together a history-making performance in their first two games together.

The Sixers have found their new big three. The early results from the trio of Embiid, Harden and Maxey have shown they are nearly unstoppable. The Sixers averaged 129.0 points per game, handily beating both the Minnesota Timberwolves and New York Knicks. They have the potential to be a wrecking ball tearing through the league on the way to bringing Philadelphia its first NBA title since 1983. Buckle up, it will only get more fun from here.

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