76ers' Tyrese Maxey Says His Game 'Blossomed' After James Harden Trade

Mike Chiari@@mikechiariFeatured Columnist IVJune 4, 2022

MIAMI, FLORIDA - MAY 02: Tyrese Maxey #0 of the Philadelphia 76ers talks with James Harden #1 against the Miami Heat during the first half in Game One of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at FTX Arena on May 02, 2022 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey believes his game reached a new level this season after the Sixers acquired James Harden from the Brooklyn Nets.

Speaking to Brandon Robinson of Bally Sports, Maxey said he felt he "blossomed" when Harden arrived in terms of knowing when to be aggressive as a scorer and playmaker:

👑 Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson @ScoopB

James Harden’s arrival to 76ers elevated Tyrese Maxey as a PG telling <a href="https://twitter.com/BallySports?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@BallySports</a>: “When James even came in, I think I really got a clear vision of when I had to be aggressive to score &amp; then aggressive to create for others. I think it really did help me &amp; my game blossomed.” <a href="https://t.co/sKBXSbMJDK">pic.twitter.com/sKBXSbMJDK</a>

The 21-year-old Maxey took a massive leap forward in his second NBA season, averaging 17.5 points, 4.3 assists, 3.2 rebounds and 1.8 three-pointers made per game while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from beyond the arc.

His performance this season was made even more impressive by the fact that he averaged just 8.0 points and 2.0 assists per game as a rookie after the 76ers selected him 21st overall in the 2020 NBA draft out of Kentucky.

Philadelphia made the trade for Harden just ahead of the deadline in February, sending Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Andre Drummond and two first-round draft picks to the Brooklyn Nets.

There was some concern about how Harden and Maxey would co-exist in the Sixers backcourt, but their skill sets seemed to mesh well.

From the time Harden made his 76ers debut on Feb. 25 through the remainder of the regular season, Maxey averaged 18.7 points, 3.5 assists, 2.5 rebounds and 2.5 three-pointers per contest.

Maxey also raised his level of play during the postseason, averaging 20.8 points, 3.9 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 2.2 trifectas made.

The Sixers experienced a disappointing second-round playoff exit for the second year in a row and fourth time in five years, but there is reason for optimism moving forward.

In addition to Maxey and his constant improvement, the Sixers boast a dominant center in Joel Embiid, who finished second in the NBA MVP voting this season.

The biggest immediate question mark for Philly is the status of Harden, who could opt out of his contract this offseason, become a free agent and sign elsewhere.

Other possibilities include Harden opting in for next season or the 76ers signing him to a new contract that spans multiple years.

The fact that Maxey actually seemed to play a bit better after Harden's arrival could convince the Sixers to keep him in the fold, but even if Harden leaves, the combo of Maxey and Embiid gives them a chance to be successful for many years to come.