Sixers: Ranking James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, and every NBA backcourt

James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
James Harden, Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Ford/Getty Images) /

. . Charlotte Hornets. 21. team. 170.

21. LaMelo Ball & Terry Rozier, Hornets

Charlotte is stuck between a rock and a hard place right now, but LaMelo Ball is the one bright shining light at the end of the tunnel. He has the potential to lead them out of mediocrity, even if it could take another couple of years for him to develop winning habits. Ball’s preternatural playmaking talent and improved scoring repertoire make him one of the best lead guards in the NBA. Terry Rozier is one-noted at times, but man does he play that one note really well. He’s a deadly off-guard scorer who benefits immensely from playing off of LaMelo.

73. . . . Denver Nuggets. 20. team

20. Jamal Murray & Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Nuggets

What can we expect from Jamal Murray fresh off a torn ACL? We don’t know, but if he returns to form then Denver will quickly join the ranks of elite contenders in the West. The Murray-Jokic two-man game will destroy opposing defenses, while Murray’s ability to create from scratch makes him one of the NBA’s best clutch performers. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is a new arrival who should fit right in. His volume shooting, combined with the defensive upgrade over Will Barton, will strengthen the Nuggets’ starting five.

86. . . . Minnesota Timberwolves. 19. team

19. D’Angelo Russell & Anthony Edwards, Timberwolves

This duo could jump up the list considerably depending on how Anthony Edwards’ game progresses in year three. He looked like a flat-out star in the playoffs, and he could elevate his game to permanent All-Star status in 2023. If he takes it a step further — and he has all the tools to rank among the NBA’s most dominant wing scorers — then we could be talking about Minnesota as real contenders in the West. D’Angelo Russell is deeply flawed and often overrated, but his on-ball scoring and playmaking out of the pick-and-roll is still valuable.