Sixers: Pros and cons of starting Tyrese Maxey

Tyrese Maxey, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Tyrese Maxey, Sixers Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

Con of the Sixers starting Tyrese Maxey: Defense

It goes without saying that the Sixers’ defense will suffer without Ben Simmons, who finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting last season. While you can credibly argue Embiid was actually the Sixers’ most important defender, Simmons fed off of him, and he fed off of Simmons. The departure of one will make the other’s job much harder.

Embiid is an absolute all-world rim protector. He’s a 7-foot brick wall who can move his feet in space, with the instincts and quick hands to completely unravel opposing offenses. He makes guards think twice or thrice about driving inside, and he’s the league’s most consistent answer to elite interior scorers, such as Giannis Antetokounmpo or Anthony Davis.

All that said, without Simmons, the Sixers’ perimeter defense will have a lot of holes. Danny Green is a fine off-ball defender, but he’s liable to get toasted at the point of attack. Seth Curry is 6-foot-2 and just got served by Kevin Huerter in game seven. And then, you arrive at Maxey — also 6-foot-2, and a notoriously inconsistent defender as of last season.

Maxey’s effort level is never in question. He will fight hard to get over screens and he has the lateral quickness to one day become a good on-ball defender. That said, his size will naturally make certain matchups untenable. He also has a long way to go off the ball. His processing of the game needs work.

The Sixers can probably survive mediocre defense in the regular season, and ideally, this Ben Simmons saga doesn’t drag on past the trade deadline. If it does, however, then Philadelphia will have a big problem on its hands in the playoffs. Matisse Thybulle could solve a lot of problems, but then you unveil new issues offensively if he enters the starting five. There’s a give and take, but Maxey transforms the starters into a much smaller group.