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Poll: Who is the ideal No. 2 option for Joel Embiid this year: James Harden or Tyrese Maxey?

Day dreaming about some best-case scenarios following Tyrese Maxey’s pair of scintillating preseason performances.

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

The Sixers season is almost upon us, and we’re trying and failing to not get carried away with just how awesome Tyrese Maxey can be. He was a revelation in 2022, and expectations are even higher for his third year, where he may be careening for the max extension that evaded both New York’s R.J. Barrett and Miami’s Tyler Herro.

So we’re wondering, is there any chance that the Kentucky product, who somehow slipped to Philly during the 2020 NBA Draft, might blossom into the Sixers’ No. 2 weapon this year, assuming Joel Embiid continues his MVP-caliber dominance?

In an apparently candid moment, head coach Doc Rivers was picked up saying the pecking order would be Joel Embiid, then James Harden.

And that probably seems like the safest bet, right? That Harden becomes the two-punch in the Sixers one-two punch combo, the Beard being one of the greatest offensive players in NBA history and all.

Will Harden recover from the hamstring issues that plagued him over the last two years and return to form? Or will he continue to deal with soft tissue injuries? And even if he has, might Father Time have leveled the playing field for the 33-year-old?

A tweet from friend-of-LB TrillBroDude during Wednesday’s game had us wondering.... who is the ideal No. 2 for Philly this season in a ceiling outcome?

I’ll include you guys in on a text chain I was part of last night around halftime of the Sixers preseason thriller over the Cavs.

Sixers fan buddy: “Had to be said:”

Knicks fan buddy: “Wow, you’re co-signing this??”

SFB: “I’m not there yet but I’m warming up to it.”

KFB: “Does that mean you’re cooling on [Sixers’ title] odds?”

SFB: “Oh I think it’s a pro Maxey take, he’s scored over 20 in the first half of both preseason games, 8-for-10 tonight.”

Me: “Yeah, unless Maxey surprises with even more leapings which I think is the point Trill making.”

KFB: “No I know- it’s pro Maxey- but for [Sixers] best chip odds, don’t you need Harden to be Harden, in which case he’s the 2nd best player on the team?”

SFB: “Good points.”

KFB: “[really happy smiley face emoji]”

Me: “true or false, the Sixers have a better chance to win a chip if Maxey is their no. 2?”

SFB: “Trick question, best chance is if Maxey is their number 1 (most don’t get that).”

Me: “lol, let’s say Joel is no. 1, better shot to win chip if Maxey or Harden is their no. 2?

SFB: “I mean, if Harden is the same guy as last year then yeah, Harden’s ideally a number 3 then, can just see the floor and be helpful player, occasionally when he’s feeling good have a big night.”

KFB: “How’d Harden look last night?”

SFB: “Looked exactly the same as last year, could be that he’s slowly ramping up, was in 4th gear, but I didn’t notice anything different. Maxey on the other hand, put on 15 LBS muscle, added a mid range game, quick threes, best player on the court both nights.”

So there you have it. That was our chat before we delved into how Donovan Mitchell looked good and how the Knicks dropped the ball not trading for him.

Now we’ll turn to a poll. This isn’t a question of probabilistic outcomes. We’re less interested in the likeliest scenario. For example, if you think the most likely scenario is that Harden returns to form and is the team’s clear No. 2, and Maxey is the third-best player that’s fine. If you think Harden is some combination of banged up or declined so Maxey is a safer bet, that’s fine also. Hold those thoughts....

But what we want to measure here, is which of the two is the ideal second gun in a Sixers best-case scenario Finals run?

For example, if I told you the Sixers won the championship, and asked you to fill in the blanks around how it all went down, was it because Harden returned to form, and carried the offensive burden, allowing Embiid to focus more on defense? Was it because Maxey basically evolved into a legit superstar?

You get it.


In an ideal world this season, who would be the Sixers second best player?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    James Harden
    (220 votes)
  • 51%
    Tyrese Maxey
    (237 votes)
457 votes total Vote Now

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