The Philadelphia 76ers currently sit at 10-3 on the season after Sunday night’s victory in Brooklyn over the Nets. They join the Boston Celtics as the first two teams in the NBA to reach 10 wins. While it hasn’t been a perfect start to the season, the takeaways you might have from watching this team are mostly positive ones. Here are 4 takeaways from the start of the season for the 2023-2024 Sixers.
1. Tyrese Maxey can and will exceed in whatever role he is thrown into
Tyrese Maxey is a star. Now in year 4 of his NBA career, Maxey has been asked to play a few different roles and yet he continues to play at a very high level. The strides that Maxey has made from year to year are quite impressive. The newest role that he finds himself playing is that of the starting point guard. With James Harden gone, Maxey is largely in control of running the show on offense. There were some questions as to whether or not he would be able to adapt to yet another new role with this team, those questions are now a thing of the past. On the season, Maxey is averaging nearly 27 points per game, 7 assists, and 5 rebounds. Maxey has totaled 92 assists and just 19 turnovers.
Tyrese Maxey appears to be well on his way to his first All-Star selection. From being just a spark plug off the bench to being the backcourt mate of James Harden, to now the star sidekick of Joel Embiid, Maxey is a special talent. Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey lead the NBA in points per game for a pair of teammates.
2020-21 – 8.0 points per game
2021-22 – 17.5 points per game
2022-23 – 20.3 points per game
2023-24 – 26.9 points per game (through 13 games)
2. The impact that Nick Nurse has had is evident
The 10-3 record aside, the eye test alone tells you of the impact that Nick Nurse is having on this team. Nick Nurse is one of the great coaching minds in the entire NBA. From a schematics standpoint, the changes that he has implemented on offense and defense are a breath of fresh air for Sixers fans. The two-man game between Embiid and Maxey is proving to be a nightmare for opposing defenses. The aggressive style of defense has contributed to the Sixers getting some big-time wins.
3. Tobias Harris has been terrific
During the 2022-23 campaign, Tobias Harris averaged just 14.7 points per game. That was his lowest scoring average since the 2015-16 season split between time in Orlando and Detroit. To the previous point, Harris seems to have found his role in Nick Nurse’s system rather quickly. Harris is averaging just over 20 points per game on the season and has scored 15 or more points in 12 of his 13 appearances. Like Maxey, Harris has had a bit of an ever-changing role in his tenure with the Sixers. With that being said, there is no doubt that this version of Tobias Harris is what the team needs. Harris has been an incredibly efficient scorer as well. He is shooting well over 50% from the field, nearly 40% from 3-point territory, and 90% from the free-throw line. If Harris continues to be this version of himself, it will bode well for the Sixers team which needs this level of consistency to come alongside Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey.
4. This is still a team with championship aspirations
Even with all the drama of the off-season and the early-season trade of James Harden, for the Sixers to be sitting at 10-3 is a real testament to the guys in the locker room. Year after year, Joel Embiid has stressed his desire to win a championship. Every year of the Joel Embiid era has looked a little different, whether it be a new coaching staff, new star players, or new role players. Like many NBA teems there has been plenty of turnover in the Sixers organization. The one constant has been Joel Embiid, one of the best basketball players on the planet and the 2022-23 NBA MVP. As long as Embiid is in the picture, the goal remains to win a championship.
Sure, some think the Sixers are still looking to make another move or two to acquire a star player, but the fact of the matter is that the Sixers have shown (at least through 13 games) that they can compete with the best of the best in the NBA. While teams like the Celtics and Bucks may have an advantage in a playoff series down the road, the Sixers certainly can contend in the regular season and have a puncher’s chance or better in any playoff matchup. While we wait to see what roster moves (if any) are made as the season progresses, Sixers fans should be encouraged by how well Nick Nurse has led this team with the roster as it is currently constructed.