Should Emerging Sixer Impact Philly’s Simmons Decision?

Tyrese Maxey Sixers

Getty Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey gestures during a game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Some fans in the City of Brotherly Love may be taking the “good riddance” approach to Ben Simmons, but don’t let them fool you. The former No. 1 overall pick’s continued absence from the Philadelphia 76ers is probably ruining the team’s season.

The longer Simmons remains out, the more Daryl Morey and Co. risk wasting one of Joel Embiid’s prime years and a shot at the NBA title. And that’s definitely not a good thing (never mind your feelings about the erstwhile Aussie).

It hasn’t been all bad for the Sixers, though. In fact, Simmons being out of the picture has made possible one of Philly’s biggest positive developments through the first third of the season. Specifically, Tyrese Maxey’s emergence as a legitimate lead guard on a winning basketball team.

Through 27 games, Maxey is averaging 16.7 points, 4.7 assists and 3.5 rebounds per contest with shooting splits of 46.9-36.9-87.1. That output makes him one of just 15 players league-wide to log a 16-4.5-3.5 line while posting an effective field goal percentage north of 50.

Maxey has been so good, in fact, that some have been left to wonder whether Morey should rethink his desired return in a Simmons deal.


Neubeck Weighs in on Maxey Impacting the Simmons Situation


Tyrese Maxey vs MEM 23 PTS 7 AST 12.13.212021-12-14T05:34:08Z

In the latest edition of his reader mailbag, PhillyVoice’s Kyle Neubeck fielded a question about Maxey’s emergence having an impact on the Simmons deal.

The belief around the league has been that Morey is coveting an elite lead guard like Damian Lillard or James Harden to take Simmons’ place at the point. However, with Maxey currently balling out, one fan was prompted to ask whether it might be more prudent to look at bringing in a high-level wing to take Danny Green’s spot in the starting five.

For his part, Neubeck could understand what the fan was driving at, too.

“It makes sense on some level,” he wrote. “Both because they badly need some size and athleticism to beef up this team and because good wings are harder to get than good guards.”

However, he was quick to note that it’s far too early to place much stock in Maxey as a long-term answer at the point for the Sixers:

If the idea is to build a contending team as soon as possible, and I imagine that’s the plan with Joel Embiid in his physical prime, I do not think you can make the franchise’s most consequential trade since the Jimmy Butler deal and hinge it around what Tyrese Maxey is or is not.

You might be the sort of person who believes that Maxey’s flash in November is proof that he could be a star one day, but there are a lot of guys who flash in momentary runs and never capture that form on a consistent enough basis to be stars or close to stars on contenders.

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Jeremy Lin & Small Sample Size Theater

Maxey has played enough games at this point for fans to be confident in the fact that he’ll have a strong season as Simmons’ stand-in. But his career could still play out in any number of ways. As Neubeck wrote, there are a number of examples of players capturing lightning in a bottle, then never finding the magic again.

Jeremy Lin is probably the best example of the phenomenon.

During the 2011-12 season, Lin emerged from the ether to become a star for the Knicks. From his 25-point breakout against the New Jersey Nets on February 4 of 2012 to his final appearance in late March, Lin appeared in 26 games for New York; a number very similar to Maxey’s current sample size. He was even better than Maxey has been in those contests, averaging 18.5 points, 7.7 assists, 3.7 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game during that span.

Lin was a Houston Rocket the following year, however, and he would ultimately play for eight teams during a nine-year career in which he never came close to reaching those Knicks heights again. Now, he finds himself out of the league and playing for the Beijing Ducks at age 33.

None of this is to say that Maxey is the next Lin — or that being the next Lin is even a bad thing; on the contrary, he has had an incredible career.

However, it illustrates the point that Morey and the Sixers can’t make decisions that will directly inform the direction their franchise goes in for the next five to seven years based on Maxey’s Linsanity-esque sample size. Philly needs to get the best return it can regardless of what Maxey is doing.

As Neubeck wrote, “if you start limiting your market to a hyper-specific player instead of simply making the best deal and/or getting the best player you can get in return for Ben Simmons, you’re going down the wrong path.”

Hear, hear!

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