Heading into Philadelphia 76ers training camp, Sixers coach Doc Rivers had a major hole to fill in his starting lineup. With Ben Simmons still holding out at the time, he needed a replacement at the point guard position. Throughout the preseason, we saw Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey each get a chance to prove their case to be the fifth starter.
Both players had some adapting to do if they were going to be Simmons’ replacement on the Sixers. They’ve shown what they can do as scoring guards but needed to grow as facilitators.
Now that Simmons has returned to the Sixers, this quiet tournament might come to an end. That said, the pair of young guards still need to focus on improving as playmakers. It might not be in the starting lineup, but Rivers will still be calling for them to be floor generals when on the floor with the second unit.
This transition has not been easy, but Maxey and Milton continue to make strides in this area of their development. Potentially having Simmons back takes some pressure off them, but the work still needs to be done to raise the ceiling for the Sixers in 2022.
Finding the proper balance between facilitator and scorer is not easy, and they have not been shy to admit it. Following practice on Thursday, Maxey opened up on how he felt he got away from himself in an attempt to be a better point guard for the Sixers.
“I think the first couple days of training camp, I got away from being Tyrese Maxey, and I told Spencer after the first preseason game in Toronto, I’ll never let myself do that again. No matter what the situation is, I can’t get away from being Tyrese Maxey. That is what helps the team win. As far as balancing out, I feel like I’ve been doing a pretty decent job, and I’ll only get better and better,” said Maxey.
Since his arrival, one thing that has always stood out for Maxey is his maturity. For only being 20-years-old, he is way beyond his years between the ears. He has always understood where he fits in with the Sixers and never let it discourage him. That is extremely rare for a player who is entering just their second season in the league.
Maxey hit the nail on the head with his response. He cannot lose himself while trying to mold his game to better fit the team’s needs. While more may be asked of him by the Sixers as a facilitator, Rivers still wants him to utilize his electric scoring ability.
Rivers understood that this transition would not be seamless, and he and his Sixers staff continue to work on helping the young guard take the next step. Sam Cassell has worked diligently since the offseason to better prepare Maxey for a larger role this season.
If he can continue to find a happy medium at point guard, it will be a major catalyst in an improved bench unit for the Sixers moving forward.