Tyrese Maxey Picks James Harden’s Brain With Ice Water In His Veins | The 21-Year-Old Is Key To Philly’s NBA Title Dreams

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

James Harden has been mired in a miserable slump for the Sixers over the past few games. He is one of the main pieces of this roster that allows the City of Brotherly Love to have Larry O’Brien aspirations.

But the biggest knock on Harden is that he sometimes doesn’t show up in the most important games, and that could be Philly’s downfall come playoff time.

But while Harden has been in a slump, Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey has been doing everything he can to help the Sixers win.

Outside of MVP candidate Joel Embiid, the Sixers have been very inconsistent as far as individual output from players. Harden is obviously going to benefit your team in terms of scoring and playmaking, but he’s not new to slumping at the wrong time, especially in crucial playoff situations.

 

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Philly’s “Thirty-Five Million Dollar” man Tobias Harris has simply just been a strong role player and a fourth scoring option for them. The former Long Island Lutheran star is averaging just under 18 a game. While the rest of the team has been average, it’s Maxey who has flashed star potential, and in March we saw him average 18 as a reliable third wheel for the Sixers. 

While you look at the immediate numbers you see Harden still putting up 23 points per game, to go along with over 10 assists per game, which is second in the league, and just under eight rebounds per game.

Harden has been mildly inefficient from the field since being acquired in the blockbuster trade with Brooklyn. He’s obviously still developing chemistry with his team and getting comfortable with Doc Rivers, who can be very demanding. The anti-Steve Nash.

After a celebrated arrival, Harden has shot under 40 percent from the field, 32 percent from three, and is averaging just over three turnovers a game in March.

Philly was finally able to see a different side of Harden recently, where against his former Brooklyn Nets, Harden shot 3-for-17 from the field and only put up 11 points in a blowout loss.

(James Harden/Instagram)

The following game, the Sixers barely get by lowly Orlando in an OT win. No thanks to Harden, who put up 26 points on 5-for-19 shooting while shooting 3-for-11 from deep.

Two highly disappointing games from Harden, who for the most part has been extremely good for the Sixers in his role as a primary playmaker, and a second-option scorer. 

But what the numbers won’t show about Harden’s impact but is clearly evident from any angle you look is that he has been Mr. Miyagi to Tyrese Maxey, who has been balling out of his mind, averaging 19 ppg since The Beard landed.

Harden has encouraged Maxey to shoot more and to exploit his mismatches in the game when he feels like he has one. Maxey has clearly been the third scoring option for Philly, and he has accepted that role gracefully.

Maxey is a flamethrower and has shown the ability to get hot late in close games, which is something Philly is going to need, because down the line teams have shown the tendency to double- and triple-team Embiid late in the game, as well as double-teaming Harden on occasion.

Maxey is only 21 and may be the steal of that 2020 draft, as Philly took him with the 21st pick in the first-round.

Maxey is a young player who’s made incredible strides and is able to still put up the numbers he has next to Embiid and Harden, which is no small feat.

Rivers will be looking to involve Maxey in playoff time even more, and Maxey will be counted on to provide and compete with that same confidence that he is exerting right now.

A huge output from Maxey in the nationally televised playoffs will definitely catapult him into that next tier of players in the NBA.

No one expects Harden to be in a slump for the rest of the season; in fact Harden rebounded against the Nuggets on Monday, posting a near-24-point triple-double on 54 percent shooting, so he’s still an x-factor for this team, but it’s nice to have a young talent like Maxey stepping up when your best players are struggling.

That, in my opinion, is the epitome of team basketball, and the Sixers will be counting on that for a major playoff run that hopefully for them ends with them winning the NBA championship.