As the postseason draws nearer, the Philadelphia 76ers have been experimenting with different lineups and players to determine who the club can rely on in crunch time.
One of those players is Paul Reed. After seeing limited playing time to start the year (he was a DNP in eight games between Jan. 1 and Feb. 8), Reed has seen a surge in playing time. Over Philly’s last nine games, he’s played an average of 12.2 minutes, including 28 against the Heat last week.
While never in danger of a coach’s DNP, Tyrese Maxey has also put together a string of solid performances for the Sixers lately. And after being the only starter to post a positive net rating against the Mavericks on Thursday, Maxey earned praise from his teammate Reed.
“I think Tyrese played amazing. I watch him play all the time, he always plays good, very consistent.” Paul Reed said last week, per Ky Carlin of Sixers Wire. “I think he made some crazy shots, one from half-court. It’s crazy.”
Over his last two games, both starts, Maxey is up to 28.0 points per game on 58% shooting from deep.
Will those stats keep up for the rest of the season? Probably not. But that’s the caliber of performance Sixers fans have come to love (and more importantly, expect) from the former Kentucky Wildcat.
Reed Makes Bold Claim About Maxey
Reed’s praise extended beyond just Maxey’s recent performances. According to Reed, Maxey is up there with the NBA‘s elite guards.
“I see him every day work his tail off, so I’m just glad to see that he’s being as consistent as he is and really being dominant,” explained Reed. “I think he’s a top-ten guard in the league for sure.”
Heading into the season, Maxey had a case for being one of the league’s most exciting young talents. In just his second season, Maxey averaged 17.5 points per game on 42.7% from three en route to supplanting Tobias Harris as the team’s third option on offense behind James Harden and Joel Embiid.
According to some, Maxey was on a collision course with his first All-Star appearance.
But Maxey’s form cratered after a foot injury that saw him miss significant time in November and December.
But if his recent form is any indication, the pre-injury Maxey is back. Is he one of the top ten guards in professional basketball? That may be a tall ask now, especially considering how well Kyrie Irving crushed the Sixers on Thursday. And Maxey’s defense continues to be an eyesore, even when it’s evident he’s committed on that end of the floor.
But is it possible in the next five years that Maxey develops into a top-ten guard? Absolutely.
Maxey Unclear of Sixers Future
It’s worth noting that both of Maxey’s sizzling games recently came with the guard included in the starting five.
But after the Mavericks thumping on Thursday, Maxey was unsure of whether his starting spot was cemented moving forward.
“I have no idea,” Maxey said when asked if he’d start against Milwaukee on Saturday, per Carlin. “We came in here, we met at 40 on the clock because it was back-to-back and my name was on the board matched up next to wherever I was guarding. So that’s when I found out.”
If Maxey continues his form against the Milwaukee Bucks, who have the league’s most efficient defense, head coach Doc Rivers might be forced to include Maxey among the starters.