Philadelphia 76ers: Tyrese Maxey can’t play all 48 minutes

(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

Whether it happens today, next week, next month, or, basketball gods forbid, in 2022, Ben Simmons is going to be traded away from the Philadelphia 76ers.

I know, I know, the idea of the Sixers somehow extending this horrible ordeal out any longer than it needs to is enough to make many a fan reconsider their fandom, but at this point, Daryl Morey has sort of worked himself into a corner.

By outwardly demanding a trade, Simmons has put a ticking timebomb – real or imaginable – on the entire process and removed the theory that the Sixers could simply keep the former first overall pick for the 2021-22 season in the hopes of bolstering his trade value down the line.

Will it work? Will the Sixers somehow leave this situation a better team than when it started, or will they effectively close out their own championship window before it could even be seen through?

Well, in theory, the Sixers should still get one heck of a return for Simmons’ services, as he’s very much an in-demand performer with incredible upside and a top-flight defensive skill set, but procuring the best possible return shouldn’t be the team’s only concern. No, considering the team is very much still trying to win now and do so during Joel Embiid’s new supermax contract, they’ll need to make sure whatever return they can muster fits alongside their best player.

Why? Because Tyrese Maxey can’t play 48 minutes a night at point guard.

The Philadelphia 76ers can’t neglect the point guard position sans Simmons.

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As things presently stand, the Philadelphia 76ers have two point guards on their active roster: Ben Simmons and Tyrese Maxey.

Granted, one could quibble with that distinction, as even Doc Rivers questioned whether or not Simmons could be a point guard on a championship team, but for the sake of argument, let’s call the duo point guards.

If the Sixers opt to trade Simmons for a package headlined by a player like Andrew Wiggins or the Michael Beasley/Josh Okogie/Jaden McDaniels plus a boatload of draft picks deal suggested by Dan Feldman of NBC Sports, that number will dip down to one, with very few options to remedy that situation moving forward.

Don’t believe me? Well, let’s take a look at the facts, shall we?

As things presently stand, the best point guard still on the open market is Isaiah Thomas. While IT was a darn good player in his prime and, at 32-years-old, could surely still play professionally for a few more years, is he really good enough to be a rotational player on a playoff team? How about Dante Exum, Frank Ntilikina, or Jeff Teague? All three are still unsigned, and none are what I would call elite.

See what I mean? Not ideal.

Oh, but the Sixers can surely still bolster their rotation in other ways, right? Like, they could trade for another point guard, say, Tyus Jones, and remain a good team.  That too is possible, but outside of the logistical issues – matching salary, an expiring trade exception, etc. – is such a player good enough to run the show for a team losing their top playmaker?

Remember how much harder Joel Embiid’s life was when he had Shake Milton “dishing” him passes during the Orlando NBA bubble? Does anyone really want to see that happen again?

And speaking of Milton, he would surely have to take on a bigger playmaking role this fall in a world where Simmons is gone, and players like Wiggins and Jonathan Kuminga take his place. Could the Sixers maybe squeeze 16ish minutes out of Milton, Seth Curry, and Jalen Springer running an offense? I guess anything is possible, but that feels a lot like a retread of 2020, which, again, was the worst Sixers team of the post-Process-era.

But fear not, my friends, for there is a solution to this issue: Get a point guard back in a Simmons trade.

I know, crazy, right? If a team loses their top facilitator, they should probably replace them? But it’s a factoid worth keeping front of mind, as it could get lost in the shuffle of heated trade conversations, especially if players like Pascal Siakam and Wiggins become central in talks.

If the Sixers trade Simmons to Portland and Dame is indeed untouchable, bring back Lehigh product CJ McCollum. If you trade Simmons to the T-Wolves, D’Angelo Russell really has to be included, even if he isn’t an elite option and would surely need to be supplemented with further assets. Heck, this blogger would even be willing to surrender a pick to wrestle De’Aaron Fox away from the Sacramento Kings, as he is the closest asset available to Simmons in terms of age, contracts, and potential.

Whatever you – read: Daryl Morey – do, just don’t think that Embiid’s greatness negates the need for an elite, pass-happy setup specialist, as doing so would only make his life harder than it needs to be.

dark. Next. Ben Simmons has turned the trade talk tables

As hyperbolic as it may sound, how the Philadelphia 76ers choose to end the Ben Simmons-era may just go down as one of the most important decisions in franchise history. The team could turn their misfortune into a massive come-up, leave talks with roughly comparable talent, or take an unfortunate step back after accepting pennies on the dollar. My only request is to keep the point guard position in mind as these conversations progress, as the need for a true blue point guard becomes all the more dire sans Simmons. For once, I’d like to see how Embiid operates with a legit point guard running the show; one capable of running pick and rolls, driving to the hoop, and dishing out dimes to the big guy down low. Is that too much to ask? Remember, while Tyrese Maxey may eventually become the Sixers’ point guard of the future, he can’t play all 48 minutes.