As the NBA careens towards trade season, it stands to wonder if the Philadelphia 76ers will make a move or stand pat. If history is any indication, Philly will be active — GM Daryl Morey is equal parts Alan Turing and relentless artist, never quite satisfied with the masterpiece he’s created.
If Philadelphia decides to wade into the trade waters, all eyes will be on one player: Tyrese Maxey. The youngster is an enviable asset and one Philadelphia stumbled into with the 21st pick in the 2020 draft. And according to Dan Favale of Bleacher Report, Maxey is one of the best nine trade chips in the NBA.
“Tyrese Maxey almost missed the cut for this exercise by virtue of being too mission-critical to the Philadelphia 76ers. (And because he’s due for an MRI on his left foot after leaving Philly’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Friday.),” Favale wrote on November 21.
Maxey’s Shown Significant Improvement in Year Two
It’s no surprise seeing Maxey’s name top any list of potential trade assets. The former Kentucky Wildcat blitzed onto the scene in his second year in Philadelphia, stepping into the void left by Ben Simmons, never to look back. His 55.8 percent eFG was 90th percentile among combo guards last season, per Cleaning the Glass. It also provided the Sixers with something desperately missing from Simmons’ game: scoring.
“He topped my trade-asset rankings entering the offseason, back when I assumed, reluctantly, the Sixers would be open to bagging another star. But now he’s averaging 22.8 points and 4.4 assists while downing 40.8 percent of his seven three-point attempts per game.”
Perhaps the most exciting part of that stat line is Maxey’s volume. Somehow, the shooting wizard has maintained his efficiency despite more attempts. His 6.8 attempts on the season are actually significantly lower than his most effective stretches: between games five and 10, Maxey attempted an incredible 9.0 threes per game, netting 48.1 percent of them.
But with Harden’s absence, Maxey’s felt the brunt of an uptick in playmaking responsibilities, which is much more of a secondary or tertiary talent when compared to his scoring. In his last five games before injury, Maxey’s scoring dropped (37 percent on 5.4 attempts) but his assist numbers bumped up to 5.6 helps per game.
But if Philadelphia does decide to move Maxey, there are already some rumblings about who the Sixers might get in return.
Is Philadelphia Eyeing Kevin Durant?
According to Heavy Sports insider Sean Deveney, the Sixers will almost certainly inquire about Kevin Durant at a time when the Brooklyn Nets are once again under a mountain of internal and external scrutiny.
“There is no doubt the Sixers have asked on Durant, they did in the summer, and will keep asking about him,” an Eastern Conference executive told Deveney. “But the Nets are going to be a little put off by them already because of the Ben Simmons thing because they feel like they were set up to give away James Harden all along. So the Sixers burned them once, do the Nets want to go back and say, OK, sure, we’ll do a KD deal, too.”
The Sixers will get a chance to watch Durant (and Simmons) up close and personal on Tuesday, as Philly welcomes Brooklyn in the latter’s first game back to the City of Brotherly Love since his trade last season.