Sixers: Player grades through first two weeks of season

Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, Sixers (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images
Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, Sixers (Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images /
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(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Sixers player grades: Starting backcourt

B+. . G. 76ers. JAMES HARDEN

James Harden is producing similar numbers to last season while utilizing entirely different methods to achieve them. His shot diet has expanded exponentially. Last season, Harden was still mostly beholden to 3s and layups, the remnants of his unique star style in Houston. Now, through seven games, he has been the NBA’s most prolific mid-range scorer. Quite the change-up!

On the whole, it has been a good change. What Harden lacks in explosiveness at the rim, he can make up for with soft floaters and open pull-up jumpers — shots the defense will often give him when Joel Embiid is diving hard to the basket. Harden remains an absolutely brilliant playmaker too, and he has looked far more capable of explosive scoring nights than he was a season ago. He still has his quiet evenings in the scoring department, and maybe back-to-backs will give him some trouble, but Harden looks every bit the superstar offensive player many expected coming into the season.

TYRESE MAXEY. B+. . G. 76ers

Um, let’s just post the numbers: 22.6 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 3.4 assists on .504/.468/.759 shooting splits. He is taking more 3s per game, averaging more steals per game on defense (1.1), and he just led the Sixers to a victory in Toronto without Joel Embiid by way of 44 points. He looks like a star, folks!

There are still weak points in Maxey’s game. He doesn’t quite manipulate the defense like other star guards in his age group. He relies mostly on speed and his unfathomably efficient jumper. If Maxey can learn to mix up speeds and become even better about setting up teammates, he will take another leap. There’s also the matter of defense: he’s the guy most teams target right now. Ideally, he will get to a place in the future where teams can’t pick on him so fruitfully.