Philadelphia 76ers: Tyrese Maxey can put his not great camp behind him

Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

Tyrese Maxey was not in a particularly advantageous position entering his second training camp with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Sure, he’d turned in a Summer League for the ages before being whisked away to his home state of Texas, but after working through a relatively calm rookie season – as calm a season as the Sixers can muster, at least – the floor fell out on normal even by typical Philly standards heading into Year 2.

Suddenly, Maxey found himself the starting point guard for the reigning number 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, with his fellow Clutch Sports client, Ben Simmons, holding out from the team in hopes of getting traded.

Maxey’s name even came up in trade conversations, with reports suggesting that Rich Paul may want him too out of the City of Brotherly Love in favor of greener, less boo-y pastures.

Fortunately, Tyrese Maxey is still a member of the Philadelphia 76ers and now looks to take on a massive role in his second season with the team, even if his training camp wasn’t particularly great, according to Doc Rivers. But none of that really matters once the basketball hits the court and another team is on the opposite end. That, my friends, is where we’ll collectively see how Maxey looks moving forward.

The Philadelphia 76ers can finally evaluate Maxey against opposing players.

When the Philadelphia 76ers take the court against the Toronto Raptors for their first preseason game of the season, it’ll be without three of their players.

One of those absentees is rather obvious, as Ben Simmons will reportedly never step foot in the City of Brotherly Love again. While the logistics of that are rather confusing, as he’d surely still need to return to the Wells Fargo Center with his new team at least one game a year, but hey, that’s a question for another time.

Then there’s Joel Embiid and Charles Bassey, who will be missing the game due to rest and an issue with his visa. How a player can already be sitting out a game for rest when there hasn’t even been a game yet is beyond me, but hey, better to keep “The Process” healthy than to risk his, well, his everything in a meaningless exhibition game.

What does that mean in the grand scheme of things for the Early Fall Sixers? Well, for one, we should see plenty of Paul Reed in the frontcourt, potentially even at small ball center behind Andre Drummond. It also means the Sixers will be without their best offensive and defensive player, which should open up the lane and a good bit of offensive opportunities for a player like Tyrese Maxey to come in and put on a show versus the similarly undermanned Raptors.

While the stats, score, and outcome won’t ultimately matter in the grand scheme of things, this is a crucial first test for Maxey in his bid to become the Sixers’ long-term starter at the point.

Presumably starting in a backcourt next to either Seth Curry or Danny Green, depending on how Doc Rivers wants to compose his starting five sans Simmons, Maxey will get to cycle through minutes alongside the team’s cornucopia of various-sized shooters while presumably playing the bulk of his time off of Drummond and Tobias Harris. Maxey will be able to show his improved handle, his defensive growth, and give fans a taste of the 3 point shot he’s been reassembling all summer long.

Though we won’t know for sure exactly what to expect until the ball is actually tipped off, I would imagine a Maxey-led offense will be fast-paced and feature plenty of ball movement, with everyone from Curry, to Harris, and even Furkan Korkmaz getting an opportunity to make on-ball decisions at the top of the key.

The game should also present a similar opportunity for Shake Milton to once again play the point and see if he’s taken any steps forward as an offensive distributor. While Milton has largely played better when he’s only tasked with scoring the ball, instead of running the proverbial show, giving him another run at the one is what the preseason is all about.

Better to find out Milton and/or Maxey isn’t ready for prime time now than on opening night versus Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans. At least then Daryl Morey could attempt to swing a trade for a stopgap point guard, sign a player like Jeff Teague off the street, or, I don’t know, actually trade Simmons for a player like Darius Garland who fits next to Joel Embiid long-term.

I don’t know, just a thought.

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Between you and me, I don’t put too much stock into how a player performs in training camp or even the preseason. Plenty of players have shined in either setting only to collapse under the pressure of games that actually count, while others maybe don’t put max effort in during the summer to stay fresh for the fall. Tyrese Maxey could still be the Philadelphia 76ers’ future if he struggles against the new-look Raptors and may ultimately fall apart when he’s facing off against the Brooklyn Nets at the home opener versus half of Toronto in an exhibition game. But hey, after a summer without Sixers basketball, it’ll sure be nice to see the boys back on the court once more, especially with everything at stake.