The drama surrounding James Harden may have soured things for the Philadelphia 76ers. However, they are still going into the 2023-24 season as one of the best teams in the NBA’s Eastern Conference. With Nick Nurse now comfortably at the helm, the Sixers are gearing up to use every bit of talent available on the team. Here is a look at some lineups Nurse may use to push the Sixers forward this year.
These lineups assume that Harden will start for the Sixers this season. Despite his marred reputation in the team and league, odds and predictions from the best basketball betting site place him as a firm favorite for the Eastern Conference. This is why we think Nurse will arrange his starting line as follows:
PG: James Harden, SG: Tyrese Maxey, SF: Tobias Harris, PF: PJ Tucker, C: Joel Embiid
PBP Stats postulates that this starting line will allow the best spacing and offense flow around Embiid and Harden. It has a 123.0 offensive rating.
PJ Tucker’s performance will determine how much the team leans on the capable 3-and-D SF De'Anthony Melton. Melton's rookie year was impressive, and Nurse will utilize him as a tough perimeter defense and shooter to save the game. The closing line may, thus, look like this:
PG: James Harden, SG: Tyrese Maxey, SF: De’Anthony Melton, PF: Tobias Harris, C: Joel Embiid
The defense end of the floor will benefit from a combination of smart defenders like PJ Tucker and athletic defenders like Patrick Beverly and Melton. Tobias Harris can provide additional support while Embiid covers the rim. In terms of offense, the Sixers will lean heavily on Embiid, Harris, and Tobias for scoring, with Danuel House Jr. maybe making a contribution. This lineup may look like this:
PG: De’Anthony Melton, SG: Patrick Beverley, SF: Tobias Harris, PF: PJ Tucker, C: Joel Embiid
Tyrese Maxey seems to have taken up the reins amidst Harden's troubles. The accomplished 3-point shooter managed a 43.4 percent shot from deep last year and will carry the shooting lineup this year. Meanwhile, Danny Green can cover spot-up open looks from 3, and Embiid and Harden deliver triples, and Harris handles the catch-and-shoots.
PG: James Harden, SG: Tyrese Maxey, SF: Danny Green, PF: Tobias Harris, C: Joel Embiid
Nurse’s MO is putting players together in unconventional ways and setting up unconventional plans. If Paul Reed is a better shooter this season, Nurse may go with the following lineup:
PG: James Harden, SG: Tobias Harris, SF: Paul Reed, PF: Mo Bamba, C: Joel Embiid
Nurse is on record saying Reed will share the floor with Embiid, and Bamba has expressed a similar interest. Bamba is already a decent shooter, so it will all fall to Reed.
If Nurse decides to distribute talent to both ends of the floor, he may go with this lineup:
PG: Patrick Beverley, SG: Tyrese Maxey, SF: De’Anthony Melton, PF: PJ Tucker, C: Paul Reed
This formation allows for versatility and will also depend on Reed's performance on the offense. If the team goes small, the focus will shift to Beverley, Tucker, and Melton on defense and Beverly and Maxey on the offensive line.
With James Harden likely on his way out, Nick Nurse will likely put the star playmaker to work one final time. Harden remains one of the best playmakers on the globe, and it only makes sense that the head coach builds his lineups around him. If he flakes, however, Maxey and Embiid seem ready to take over.