Ever since being drafted in 2020, Tyrese Maxey has been one of the most constant and pleasing reasons to follow the Sixers. After two seasons of rapid growth, the 2022-2023 campaign felt like the perfect time for him to rise into the stardom his talent warranted. Nearly a month away from the start of the playoffs, his recent reinsertion in the starting line-up has helped him carry on with his ascension.

Since reentering the starting line-up five games ago, Maxey’s stats have been splendid.

Initially, the logic behind the switch from Maxey to Melton in the starting line-up was to balance the team better. The idea was to start Melton, who had done an excellent job as a starter during Maxey’s absence, for his defense and giving Maxey more freedom to operate and lead the offense with bench line-ups –for whom Doc seems to have some sort of blind spots for. The move was far from unwarranted, at the very least it would allow the combo-guard to ease his way into rhythm after missing one month of competition.

A few months into this revolution, Tyrese Maxey’s production on the court plummeted. In the 19 games he came off the bench, he averaged a mere 15.9 points.

Tyrese playing as well as he did in this recent stretch of days raises the team’s ceiling in a vigorous manner. With his 14 points in the second half of last week’s game against the Bucks, Maxey scored as much as he did in the last two confrontations against the Celtics combined, where he came off the bench and where the Sixers lost twice. Him being an electric and fast-paced offensive force that can ignite the offense, versus him being off rhythm has logically appeared like a major X-factor in the Sixers’ success.

The five men group consisting of Harden, Maxey, Harris, Tucker and Embiid is the third best unit in the entire league. They are outscoring opponents by nearly 15 points every 100 possessions, powered by an outrageously good offense. The other starting line-up, with Melton replacing of Maxey, has “only” a +8.5 net rating but has played 273 more minutes together. De’Anthony has been an elite role player all year and he’ll continue to be one, but baring any injury, the team should just continue to play their best unit more (with Maxey in it), even if Melton is theoretically a better fit.     

The other advantage in starting Maxey is that his minutes shared with Embiid and Harden have grown, and it clearly benefits everyone involved. Tyrese is one of the best close-out attackers in the league and a deadly knockdown shooter. He’s the perfect offensive complement next to two players who draw multiple defenders on basically every possessions. 

Weaponizing Maxey’s own creation abilities should continue to be a thing, especially when Embiid sits. During last Thursday’s game in Dallas, it was him and the bench who ignited a 15-0 run at the start of the fourth, bringing the team back from the dead. Finding the right rotations to stagger the stars and survive when their MVP is not on the floor, while simultaneously giving them enough time together will be an important task for the coaching staff until the end of the season.

The texan’s outstanding team-first mentality allowed the coaches to pry his starting spot without facing any backlashes from the player, even after reducing his minutes, and he should be praised for his maturity. Even if Maxey’s success as a starter should discourage him from doing so, Doc alluded to the fact that this status might not be permanent. He likes what Melton and Maxey add to the starting line-up and he will continue to use this diversity of skillsets throughout the remaining of the season.

Using the length and hazards of an 82 games season to experiment things and to try to perfect the team is exactly what you’re supposed to do. The underwhelming Maxey as a sixth man experiment might have lasted a bit too long, but true to himself, the 22 years old took it as an opportunity to grow and give his best for the franchise. In a way, he’s back to where he belongs, next to the bests.  

Go Sixers!

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