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January 21, 2024

Grading the Sixers at the midway point of the season

With the season reaching its midway point and the trade deadline nearing, now is as good of a time as ever to evaluate the Sixers' performances so far in 2023-24.

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Embiid Maxey 1.18.24 Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports

Joel Embiid and Tyrese Maxey are seeing the Sixers' roster filled out around them.

Following the Sixers' road back-to-back on Friday and Saturday nights, they return home having played 41 games — exactly half of their 82-game schedule. In most ways, this Sixers season has been far more encouraging than it was expected to be, led by a dominant Joel Embiid, an ascending Tyrese Maxey and a masterful head coach in Nick Nurse.

With 41 down and 41 to go, let's take a look at the performances of the Sixers' rotation players so far this season.

Joel Embiid

Whenever he has been on the floor, Embiid has crushed the opposition this season. He is on pace to lead the NBA in points per game for the third consecutive season. He has made massive strides as a passer and playmaker, averaging far more assists per game than he ever has before. He remains one of the league's greatest defensive stalwarts. The only way he could have earned an A+ is by missing fewer contests. Even if he becomes ineligible to repeat as NBA MVP, he deserves a ton of credit for what he is accomplishing this season.

Grade: A

Tyrese Maxey

One of the few biggest questions surrounding this Sixers team was: will Maxey make another leap and become an All-Star-caliber player? The answer to that question, it turns out, is a resounding "yes." Maxey is on the verge of his first All-Star nod, a remarkable feat for a fourth-year, 23 year-old player. Maxey is not just one of the most exciting young players in the association, he is one of the very best players on the planet. A mini slump in the month of November that saw his efficiency dip a bit is the only thing between him and an A+.

Grade: A

Tobias Harris

Harris is far from perfect, and even in this season he has had absolutely maddening stretches of inactivity, indecisiveness or straight-up poor play. But when you zoom out and view his 2023-24 first half in the aggregate, you'll find that he has largely been quite good. Harris is in the midst of a particularly hot stretch right now, including pouring in his first- and third-best scoring outputs of the season in consecutive games earlier this month.

Grade: B+

Nic Batum

Batum's grade is docked a bit by his relatively ineffective box score production. But a big part of what makes him special is that he has mastered just about every skill that is not quantifiable. He has a lightning-quick three-point release. He guards his man across all 94 feet of the floor. Most importantly, he is the most versatile defensive player on the team. 

"It's super valuable," Nurse said. "He does a lot of it by working... it has a pretty good ripple effect on our team."

Grade: B+

De'Anthony Melton

Melton had a brutal start to the season during which he simply could not connect from beyond the arc. His three-point shooting has since normalized a bit, but it currently sits at just 36.3 percent — last year, Melton shot 39 percent from deep. Melton's finishing around the rim has improved in the last month or so, but only after an elongated stretch of brutal two-point accuracy beforehand.

Grade: B-

Kelly Oubre Jr.

Oubre has thrived after being forced to sign a veteran's minimum contract following a season in which he averaged more than 20 points per game. He has already given the Sixers more than enough value to justify his one-year deal, thanks to his three-point shooting, interior scoring, defensive effort and all-around energy. Not only does Oubre make winning plays, but he seems to always make them at the perfect times. Oubre figures to be an essential part of the rotation the rest of the way, no matter how many trades the team makes.

Grade: A-

Patrick Beverley

Beverley earning this grade after his start to the season is stunning. In the first 18 games of the season, he shot just 38.6 percent from the field and 25.8 percent from three-point range. Upgrading the backup point guard spot seemed like the most obvious way to improve the team. But then something changed: Beverley has become effective not just as a pestering defensive player, but also as an offensive player. He has made massive improvements to not just his three-point shooting, but his scoring inside the arc. Beverley has utilized a series of crafty layups and floaters to become an extremely useful piece of this roster.

Maxey, with a smile, joked about Beverley's newfound scoring.

"It's funny," Maxey said. "It's funny when he's on your team and he does it, because when he's not on your team, it's not funny."

'His leadership and his voice have been big-time."

Grade: B

Marcus Morris Sr.

Morris has shot the bell very well since arriving in Philadelphia, and that's just about all the team can ask of him. Morris' stand-still three-point shooting is his best skill at this juncture of his career. Between that and the occasional face-up mid-range jumper, he has absolutely been serviceable on the offensive end of the floor. The defensive end is where he struggles. Morris may be dealt before the deadline to help the Sixers upgrade their rotation elsewhere, but his time in Philadelphia has gone about as well as anyone could have hoped for so far.

Grade: B-

Paul Reed

Reed has not been bad this season, but it is difficult to say he has been good. The Sixers are struggling much more than they did last year when Embiid is off the floor — that is not solely Reed's responsibility, but it does not reflect well on his performance. Despite knocking down the occasional jumper this season, his offensive efficiency is noticeably down from where it was last season. He is still more than viable as a backup center, but the Sixers surely hope Reed has more untapped potential.

Grade: C+

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