Sixers: 3 training camp battles to watch

Philadelphia 76ers, Tyrese Maxey, Furkan Korkmaz Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia 76ers, Tyrese Maxey, Furkan Korkmaz Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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Philadelphia 76ers
Philadelphia 76ers, Shake Milton, Tyrese Maxey Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /

As the Sixers attempt to maintain a veneer of normalcy around training camp with the Ben Simmons albatross still hanging around their necks, it’s becoming clear that the team will need to find a way to play without Simmons for the time being. At some point, the actual basketball games will once again resume — and the Sixers have plenty of non-Simmons personnel decisions to sort out.

Here are the three biggest positional battles to watch out for in training camp. The winners and losers of these camp competitions will go a long way in determining the new identity of a Sixers team that will have to learn to play without their All-Star point guard and adapt to the hole his absence leaves.

3 camp battles to watch: Starting backcourt

With the team’s relationship with Simmons beyond repair, the Sixers have an All-Star-sized hole to fill at the point guard position. For all of Simmons’s flaws on the court, he was a very capable distributor who knew how to get the ball where it needed to go (as long as it didn’t need to go in the basket).

The Sixers were just 7-7 in games without Simmons last season, and a large part of that was due to their lack of a reliable backcourt in his absence. In training camp, the team will need to sort out which players will be starting alongside the three frontcourt locks: Danny Green, Tobias Harris and Joel Embiid.

Seth Curry is practically guaranteed to hold down one of those starting spots. He took a leap in last season’s playoffs, averaging 21 points per game while shooting a scorching 61.0 percent from the field (60.0 percent from three) against the Atlanta Hawks. Although his defensive weaknesses were exposed in the postseason as well, those problems aren’t as accentuated in the regular season, and Curry’s three-point prowess should ensure that he remains in the starting lineup.

The second spot, though, is where things get interesting. Two clear options have emerged — Tyrese Maxey and Shake Milton — to replace Simmons’s slot in the starting lineup. Each has their share of benefits when compared to the young socialite, but neither can fully replicate his impact. Rivers’ choice between the two will depend on which holes the team needs to fill.

Must Read. 3 holes to fill once Simmons is traded. light

Maxey is quicker off the dribble than Milton and more adept at getting to the basket. He also demonstrated playmaking ability last season that the SMU product hasn’t flashed yet in three years in the league. Milton, to his credit, has a larger frame than Maxey — which could help make up for the undersized Curry defensively — and shoots the three more reliably than the rising sophomore.

On day one of training camp, Tyrese Maxey was Doc Rivers’s selection to run with the ones, per Kieth Pompey of The Inquirer. We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of camp shakes out, but Maxey is starting the race with the inside track to that starting role.