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A few weeks of the 2022-23 NBA season are now in the books, which means that there's been a large enough sample size of action to pick up on some trends. The impressive play of James Harden was an early silver lining for the Philadelphia 76ers amid an otherwise underwhelming start to the season. Harden is now sidelined with a foot injury, but the season doesn't stop, and the Sixers have to figure out how to win some games without him. Aside from Harden, here's a look at some other interesting Sixers-related early season tidbits. 

Tobias Harris letting it fly 

A player "embracing his role" is a common cliché in professional sports, but that's exactly what Tobias Harris is doing for the Sixers this season. Heading into the current campaign, I wrote about how Harris was going to need to adjust his game in order for the Sixers to reach their ceiling as a team, and while the latter hasn't happened yet, the former certainly has.

Playing alongside three highly productive, ball-dominant players in Joel Embiid, James Harden and Tyrese Maxey, Harris isn't going to get a lot of plays called specifically for him. Instead, he was going to have to become more comfortable as an off-ball, catch-and-shoot type of player, and that's exactly what he's done.

Through 11 games, Harris is averaging a career high 5.7 attempts from long distance, and he's converting those attempts at a career high 44 percent clip. A whopping 48 percent of Harris' field goal attempts this season so far have been from long distance. That number is the highest of Harris' career, by far. For comparison, just 26 percent of his total attempts were from beyond the arc last season, and that number was 22 percent the year before that. Harris is letting it fly this season, and he's looking comfortable doing so. 

As expected, Harris' overall usage has dropped -- his usage percentage of 18.1 this season is the lowest of his entire career. He's not getting as many isolation or post-up possessions as he has in the past, and as a result his points per game average is the lowest it has been since his days in Orlando (15 points per game). He's shifting and sacrificing statistically for the good of the team, which isn't something you always see in today's NBA. 

Not the league's best defense 

Adding two-way players and guys capable of getting it done on the defensive end of the floor was clearly a priority for the Sixers over the offseason with additions like De'Anthony Melton, P.J. Tucker and Danuel House. Entering the season, the team preached the importance of defense in relation to their overall success. 

"Our focus is on defense," Embiid said at media day. "We aim to be the best defensive team in the league. That's going to take all of us. I got to get back to not waiting until the fourth [quarter] to be that guy, and then doing it all game... For me, coming into this year we just want to focus on that." 

Having the league's best defense is an admirable -- albeit lofty -- goal, but the Sixers haven't even come close to reaching that mark. Through 11 games, the Sixers have the league's 16th-ranked defense, per NBA Stats. Transition has been the main issue for Philadelphia on the defensive front, as they allow 16.2 fast break points per game, which is near the bottom of the league. 

If the Sixers are going to try contend in the East, they're obviously going to need to improve on that end of the floor. Turning into the league's top defense might be a bit ambitious, but they could certainly try to climb into the top 10, at least. Having a healthy Embiid back out on the floor should help in that regard, as the big man had to miss a handful of games at the front end of the season. Added cohesion that comes as the season wears on could also be beneficial.

Improved consistent effort could help, too. There's been a number of occasions where a simple lack of effort has cost the Sixers.

Philadelphia finished with the 12th-best defense in the league last season. It will be interesting to see if they're ultimately able to improve upon that mark this season. 

Expanded role for De'Anthony Melton 

The Sixers aren't a team that has a ton of ball handlers. James Harden, Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton are the only true primary ball handlers on the roster, and for the time being the Sixers are without one of them in Harden. In Harden's absence, as he has at other times early this season, De'Anthony Melton has served as a secondary ballhandler for Philadelphia -- occasionally bringing the ball up and running the offense. On the season, he's averaging 2.9 assists per performance, and he had a season-high nine assists against the Knicks last week in the team's first game without Harden. 

In addition to initiating offense, the Sixers have also used Melton as a screener at times, and he's also able to make plays out of that action. 

After the Knicks game, I asked Melton if we might see him take on a bit larger of a playmaking role moving forward. Here's what he had to say: "Definitely. Especially with the guys we got on this team. We got a lot of shooters on this team. Getting Tobias, Matisse [Thybulle] and Tyrese [Maxey] in transition in stuff like that. Just continue to kick it up and get the ball moving. I feel like that's my job." 

Melton has proven to be a solid addition for Philadelphia, as he has provided the team with an able defender (he's fourth in the NBA in deflections per game and sixth in steals per game) and floor-spacer, in addition to his playmaking. 

Second chance points

This is kind of a random stat, but I thought it was interesting nonetheless: The Sixers currently lead the league in second chance points allowed with just 9.5 per game. They're the only team giving up fewer than 10 second chance points per game. They're not necessarily doing a great job of getting initial stops, but at least they're not compounding their problems by allowing a bunch of second chance points.