large 76ers questions - With James Harden out, this is the place the following month might take Philly

What’s already been a topsy-turvy season for the Philadelphia 76ers shifted as quickly as as quickly as extra Thursday, when the workforce introduced All-Star guard James Harden had suffered a proper foot tendon strain. Sources advised ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that Harden is anticipated to overlook a month.

Philadelphia, which is 4-5 moving into Friday night’s recreation in opposition to the the manhattan Knicks, is in search of a rhythm after a disappointing start for a gaggle that was retooled this offseason round its stars and constructed for a championship run.

So what does Harden’s foot damage imply for him to the 76ers? How will MVP contender Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey and Co. deal with the following a quantity of weeks? listed beneath are 5 questions on Philadelphia — and the place it goes from right here — as a end result of the franchise appears to be like to fight out of an early season hole.

extra: the place Philly lands in ESPN’s latest NBA vitality Rankings

1. What’s subsequent for the Sixers whereas Harden is out?

A tough stretch inside the schedule is simply forward. After going by way of the Knicks, the 76ers have a run that options:

and that is simply main into Thanksgiving — after the journey, Philly faces the pink-sizzling Cleveland Cavaliers, the Hawks and the Memphis Grizzlies.

In fully different phrases: The 76ers will not be easing into life with out Harden.

The concern for Philadelphia is lacking chunks of time might very effectively be the mannequin new regular for Harden, who turned 33 in August and has performed the eighth-most minutes of any lively NBA participant.

throughout the eight full seasons Harden starred in Houston (2013 to 2019) he missed a mixed 29 video games, and by no means missed elevated than 10 in a single season.

Harden is one in every of two gamers averaging at the least 10 assists this season, collectively with Suns guard Chris Paul. as effectively as, the 76ers have an assist alternative price of fifty five% when Embiid, Harden and Maxey share the floor, based mostly on Second Spectrum monitoring knowledge.

That price drops to forty three.eight% when Harden isn’t on the floor, which might rank inside the underside 5 inside the league.

2. Will November be the month of Maxey?

moving into Thursday night’s movement, Maxey had performed an NBA-extreme 340 minutes this season, with Harden’s 331 minutes coming in second. Philadelphia has not often sat each on the identical time and typically has had them taking half in collectively.

For the following couple of weeks, the 76ers are going to level into Maxey’s workforce full-time so far as lead ballhandling duties go. What already was a prolific start to the season — Maxey’s factors per recreation have shot as a lot as 24.2 from 17.5 final season — will evolve proper into a heavier burden on his shoulders.



Tyrese Maxey displays up in a large methodology for the 76ers, giving them their second win of the 12 months behind a profession-best forty 4-level efficiency.

Per Second Spectrum, when Maxey shares the courtroom with Harden and Joel Embiid he averages sixteen.7 photographs per a hundred possessions. When he is on the market with simply Embiid that quantity virtually doubles to 32.three.

“it is fantastic how he is in 12 months three now and he is assured, he is working his workforce, he is taking half in like an All-Star,” Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal mentioned Wednesday after beating Maxey and the 76ers. “he is large proficient and the sport is merely going to proceed to decelerate an rising quantity of for him, which is even scarier.”

Maxey acquired here into the season tapped as a critical breakout candidate. it will in all probability be an alternative for him to not solely assist maintain Philadelphia’s offense — which at present sits fourth inside the league — buzzing with Harden sidelined, however to level he can fill the elite playmaking void alongside Embiid.

three. What mannequin of Embiid will the 76ers get?

This season was alleged to be about Embiid’s dominance and the methodology Philadelphia had lastly assembled a roster throughout the celeb large man that made sense at each ends of the courtroom.

by way of the most important two weeks of the season, issues have not gone based mostly on plan.

Embiid has already missed three video games — collectively with the previous two for a non-COVID sickness — and has disclosed that he was dealing with a case of plantar fasciitis over the summer time which helped contribute to his sluggish start to the season.

Embiid stays to be averaging 27.2 factors per recreation on fifty three.2% taking pictures from the sphere, however Philadelphia stays to be floundering shut to the underside of the league in protection — extra on that in a bit — and Embiid has grumbled with regard to the ball not shifting throughout the methodology by way of which he’d desire it to be.

“We simply want to maintain taking half in off of every fully different,” Embiid mentioned after the 76ers’ opening-night loss to the Boston Celtics. “The ball can’t stick … we have gotten to merely maintain shifting the ball, going to the second movement, and it simply would not cease on the decide-and-roll.”

Heading proper into a stretch the place Philadelphia will face off in opposition to a flurry of star-powered teams, it is going to be as a lot as Embiid to maintain it forward. With the depth of expertise throughout the japanese convention this season, no contender can afford a tough few weeks. And Philadelphia’s underneath .500 start so far has solely exacerbated the want for issues to start out turning round in a rush to fulfill this group’s lofty preseason expectations.

4. Will Tobias Harris discover his offensive position?

Philadelphia’s highest-paid participant (Harris is making elevated than $37 million in 2022-23) has been a relative afterthought on offense this season. His factors per recreation (thirteen.4) and photographs per recreation (10.7) are his lowest since his second season inside the NBA.

Harris is an particularly extremely paid spot-up shooter, as elevated than half his makes an try have come from three-level fluctuate and his free throw price has plummeted.

“He clearly has to get used to … not touching the ball as a lot as he has prior to now,” 76ers coach Doc Rivers mentioned of Harris after Wednesday’s loss to Washington. “and that i truly suppose he is making an try to do this … We nonetheless should attribute him on the publish when he has a matchup.”

there’ll in all probability be lots extra alternatives to attribute Harris now.

He had arguably in all probability the easiest stretch of his profession late inside the 2021-22 common season and into the playoffs, filling in no matter gaps had been vital alongside Philadelphia’s stars after the workforce acquired Harden from the Brooklyn Nets on the commerce deadline.

Harris, who has averaged at the least 17 factors per recreation every of the previous 5 seasons, now has an alternative to get hold of his place in Philadelphia’s offense subsequent to Embiid and Maxey whereas Harden works his methodology again.

5. About that protection…

whereas the quick thought is changing Harden’s offensive manufacturing, the woes on the fully different finish of the courtroom (the 76ers rank twenty third in defensive rating this season) are alarming for a workforce that added three-and-D gamers P.J. Tucker, De’Anthony Melton and Danuel dwelling inside the offseason.

earlier than the season started Embiid declared he needed Philadelphia to be in all probability the easiest defensive workforce inside the NBA, nonetheless the 76ers have started the season permitting elevated than thirteen factors per a hundred possessions elevated than the league-main Bucks.

And on that entrance, Maxey has been at the least an aspect of the draw again. inside the 340 minutes he is been on the courtroom this season, Philadelphia has allowed a hundred and fifteen.6 factors per a hundred possessions. however inside the ninety two minutes he is been on the bench that quantity has plummeted to one hundred and five.eight, which might be the fourth-best defensive rating inside the league.

Harden being out might imply extra minutes for defensive stopper Matisse Thybulle, regardless of prolonged standing factors on the offensive finish that pressured him out of coach Doc Rivers’ rotation.

“Defensively, we have now to join elevated,” Embiid mentioned after Philly dropped a third straight recreation to open the season in opposition to the San Antonio Spurs. “We’re not guarding the ball effectively. we have now to work on that. it is a reasonably new workforce and it’d take time to get everyone on the identical web content.”

ESPN Stats & information’s Matt Williams contributed to this story.


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