With Philadelphia 76ers point guard Ben Simmons not in training camp as was reported for the past several weeks in the sports media, the team will have to make some adjustments. Sixers head coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers utilized the talent on the team, which advanced to the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals.
The one player who could step up and play a big role as the Sixers’ floor general is second-year guard Tyrese Maxey, who showed flashes of brilliance throughout the regular season and made some great contributions in the NBA playoffs last spring.
Maxey, a 6-foot-2, 200-pounder, was a first-round pick out of Kentucky by the Sixers in the 2020 NBA Draft. He played in 61 regular season games averaging 8.0 points and 1.7 rebounds in 15.3 minutes per game. He had a career-high 39 points against the Denver Nuggets last season.
In the playoffs, he gave the Sixers a big lift off the bench tallying 6.3 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists a game. Maxey was very impressive scoring 16 points and grabbing seven rebounds to help the 76ers post a 104-99 victory over the Atlanta Hawks in Game 6 of the conference semifinals
“He’s going to be a key [player] with or without [Ben Simmons],” Rivers said. “We’re going to try to put him in position to do that.”
The 76ers have some big shoes to fill with Simmons holding out. The 6-foot-10 point guard is a three-time NBA All-Star who can handle the ball, pass and get to the basket to create opportunities for other players.
Maxey is a player who can explode in the open court and penetrate to the basket. Rivers has watched his game develop gradually as a lead guard. He’s been pleased with his progress.
“I like him,” Rivers said. We played him early in the year and I didn’t like some of the things he was doing. I kept telling our staff — I give him credit like getting to the basket. The next step for me defensively — that kid works.
“It’s rare that you see a guy with the talent that he just has. It’s rare talent and it’s rare that doesn’t turn into success. He just has all the ingredients in my opinion to be a heck of a basketball player for us for a long time.”
In spite of Simmons not being in camp, Rivers has some great veterans like all-star center Joel Embiid, forward Tobias Harris, center Andre Drummond, guards Seth Curry and Danny Green to provide a solid foundation.
Rivers also has some expectations from the younger players like Maxey, along with guards Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton and Furkan Korkmaz with the absence of Simmons.
It’s clearly not the easiest situation, but individually it’s easy,” Rivers said. “I look at the young guys that we have. It’s amazing. I try not to include Matisse, but he’s young. Furk [Korkmaz] and Shake [Milton] and Tyrese [Maxey] are young.
“So individually it’s easy to set their goals and their standards for whatever we need them to to be for us to take the next step. We’re going to focus on who’s here. We’re going to build our team out to who is here right now with hopes that we do have Ben [Simmons] at some point.
“Right now, that can’t be our focus. Our focus — I can only touch the people who are in front of me. So that’s my goal right now is to get their mindsets right about moving forward.”
Tyrese Maxey could be one of those players to help the team move forward without Ben Simmons right now.