Sixers: How should the rotation change once Tyrese Maxey returns?

Tyrese Maxey, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports
Tyrese Maxey, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Should the Sixers be concerned about Tyrese Maxey messing up the momentum?

The Sixers are winners of eight of their last nine (eight straight prior to Tuesday’s loss to Washington). A lot of folks have posited that Maxey’s return could interrupt the group’s positive momentum (thus the conversation around Melton potentially starting over Maxey). Again, I don’t think Melton should start over Maxey. Either weigh matchups and start Melton next to Maxey, or just make Melton the kind of sixth man who regularly eclipses the 30-minute mark.

Either way, Maxey should — and almost definitely will — return to the starting five. Will he mess things up? I tend to think not. There are valid defensive concerns tied to swapping Melton for Maxey, especially when the Sixers face high-level point guards. But again, there’s nothing stopping the Sixers from playing Melton extensively with Maxey and Harden in those matchups.

The offensive boost is unquestionable. A lot of the Sixers’ recent success has been tied exclusively to the individual brilliance of Joel Embiid and James Harden. They are regularly posting absurd stat lines while the defense crumbles around them and the ancillary pieces struggle. Maxey gives the Sixers another offensive engine who can create his own shots and take some of the burden off of Philly’s superstar duo.

There are still some challenging offensive dynamics to work out with this group. The Harden-Embiid dynamic has progressed considerably, but there are still countless instances of Harden being entirely too passive when Embiid’s on the court. The Sixers need to empower Harden to be aggressive even when Embiid’s on the court. That will only make the offense more dynamic. Is there enough basketball to go around once Maxey re-enters the fold too? Does Harden get too passive with Maxey also requiring touches?

It’s definitely possible. The balance struck between the Embiid-Harden-Maxey trio offensively could ultimately determine whether or not the Sixers contend for the championship. There’s not a single more potent trio on paper, but Embiid can’t get black-hole syndrome, Harden can’t be too selfless, and Maxey has to avoid his customary silent spells. The individual talent is all there: now they have to learn how to work collectively every night.

Overall, I’m optimistic it will happen. The Sixers just won eight straight without Maxey, anchored largely by the improved synergy of Embiid and Harden — two special, all-time offensive talents. Maxey is by no means selfish and there’s plenty of time for the trio to grow together between now and the playoffs. The talent is off the charts. In the NBA, talent often wins out.

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