Oh no, the Sixers’ summer curse has struck again. Why oh why does this keep happening to us?
… what? Nothing’s wrong with Maxey? This was all pre-approved so that the Garland, Texas native could run a youth basketball camp in his hometown?
*phew* I guess the only real losers in this situation are the Summer Sixers, who looked a whole lot less world-beater-y without their fearless leader.
Tyrese Maxey is going to be someone for the Philadelphia 76ers this fall.
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Through the first two games of Vegas Summer League, Tyrese Maxey was a man on fire.
Serving as the team’s starting point guard, a role he earned with the big club eight times last season, Maxey moved the ball with a working man’s Chris Paul precision, attacked the basket from all over the court, and even got his teammates involved with an unselfish resolve that wasn’t present last season.
Does Maxey still deploy his signature floater? Most definitely, shooters gonna shoot, and Maxey’s signature midrange shot floats like that Modest Mouse song, but he’s also starting to take more 3 pointers – seven per game – and even getting to the line 4.4 more times per game than last season.
Fun fact: Tyrese Maxey currently leads the Summer League in points per game at 26.0. Something tells me that record might just hold.
Surely Maxey looked like a man among boys at the summer league – but not in the same way as 32-year-old Michael Beasley did with the Portland Trail Blazers – and if he can’t continue to get one percent better every day heading into the regular season, the Philadelphia 76ers might just have an ideal point guard to groom for the future… assuming he isn’t traded to Portland between then and now.
But, you may ask, how did the Summer Sixers fare without Maxey running the point?
With Frank Mason finally back from a groin injury, the Sixers were outscored 100-80 and lacked the usual semi-frenetic energy that made the squad so hard to cover through their first two contests. Jaden Springer, the team’s much-heralded 2021 first-round pick, continued to look inconsistent, especially on the offensive end of the court, Isaiah Joe‘s lethal open looks were far more sporadic, and even Paul Reed, the team’s Game 2 star, looked less dominant without Maxey running the show.
If this was the first game of the summer you saw the Sixers play, you’d probably think they have a solid collection of players under contract but no one ready for prime time; an unfortunate byproduct of losing your best player in the middle of a run for the Vegas Summer League championship.
*sigh* maybe without Maxey around, Springer and company can put it all together, take over the point, and keep the Sixers in contention for the Summer League crown, but if their performance against Boston is of any indication, I sort of doubt it.
Are we, collectively, reading a bit too much into two preseason games by a 21-year-old point guard playing against largely borderline NBA players? Maybe so, but a lot of the aspects of Tyrese Maxey’s evolution aren’t solely reliant on his foe’s level of talent. With a few months off to hone his game, Maxey’s drives have more purpose, his defensive fundamentals are sound, and he’s handling the ball with a certain swagger that just wasn’t there when he made his NBA debut in 2020. For the Philadelphia 76ers, that development is worth losing out on a Summer League trophy.