Before the Philadelphia 76ers started getting pounded by injuries and COVID-19 (again), things were going exceedingly well for the club. Even with Ben Simmons remaining on the sidelines, Doc Rivers’ crew was able to win eight of its first 10 games.
Although a number of factors helped make that early run possible — Joel Embiid’s steadying presence, Tobias Harris playing like an All-Star, Seth Curry’s hot shooting, the bench stepping up, et al. — the contributions of second-year guard Tyrese Maxey cannot be overstated.
His strong play has continued, too, despite the early run suddenly morphing into a five-game losing streak. As of this writing, the former 21st overall pick is putting up 17.5 points, 4.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds per contest. He’s also rocking an offensive rating of 113.5 over a team-high 536 minutes.
Maxey has been so good, in fact, that a former league executive and statistical guru just likened his possible career path to that of a certain four-time NBA champion and future Hall of Famer.
Hollinger: Maxey Could Be Tony Parker-Esque
In a piece breaking down some early-season trends that fans can actually believe in, The Athletic’s John Hollinger made a point to sing Maxey’s praises. Hollinger called him “the roadrunner” and noted that Philly’s fill-in floor general is currently thriving due to “blast-off, beep-beep quickness and unusual skill at making runners and bankers on the move.”
He also posited the following question — “Does that combination remind you of any other 6-2 guard who was a late first-round pick?”
The player Hollinger was referring to was, of course, San Antonio Spurs legend and teardrop maven Tony Parker. He writes:
Maxey still depends to an unusual extent on difficult running bankers, and that makes you a little nervous projecting his future. But his first-step burst is undeniable and unteachable. If he can leverage tricks like the catch-and-go and tweaks to his off-the-dribble game to get to the rim just a bit more often, and if the basketball gods sprinkle in some stardust, you can start imagining a career trajectory that doesn’t look all that different from Tony Parker’s.
While putting that kind of expectation Maxey is a little unfair, having a Parker-esque player next to Embiid for the long-term would be a godsend given the Simmons drama. And it may not be too much of a stretch, either.
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Comparing the Players’ First Two Years
Going beyond their mutual backcourt role, small-ish statures and somewhat unorthodox offensive skill sets, the year-two jump experienced by Maxey to date also resembles that of Parker.
This is how things have progressed for the former, through 15 games played in 2021-22:
And this is what Parker was able to do with the Spurs:
It’s not a 1:1 comparison; Maxey has been called on to be more of a scorer, while Parker came more fully formed as a quarterback, but the statistical similarities nonetheless mirror some of their other aspects.
Given that the Spurs beat the then-New Jersey Nets for the title during Parker’s second season, Sixers fans are undoubtedly hoping that Hollinger is onto something here.