How will the Sixers replace Ben Simmons’ offensive production?

Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images)
Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Mark Blinch/Getty Images) /

Even though the Sixers front office, Daryl Morey and Doc Rivers, have made it abundantly clear that they desire for Ben Simmons to rejoin this team, it is hard to believe that anyone actually believes Ben Simmons is going to play for the Sixers this year.

The departure of Ben Simmons leaves a gaping hole on Philadelphia’s roster. The team has a clear 1-2 punch in Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris, but while Ben Simmons is far from a perfect offensive player, he was still a significant source of offense for the 76ers last season.

The Sixers need to replace Ben Simmons offensively. Who will carry that mantle?

Last year, Ben Simmons averaged 14.3 points and 6.9 assists per game. No matter how you feel about Ben Simmons, that is a significant amount of offensive responsibility that is going to be missing this season. The Sixers will have to find a way to replace this production. There are a few different options currently on the roster to replace Ben Simmons. The clearest and most natural option is the player who was, for stretches of the Hawks series, the number two offensive option: Seth Curry.

Seth Curry scored 76 points in games five, six, and seven of that series. More points than Tobias Harris and Ben Simmons combined. Because of this, Seth Curry is most likely to be the No. 3 leading scorer on this team at the beginning of the season. But, Curry is far from a complete offensive player. In those same three games where he scored 76 points, he managed a total of four assists. Seth Curry is not an offensive creator, and his scoring is almost completely dependent on being set up by someone else. WIthout the distribution and creation of Ben Simmons, Seth Curry will likely struggle to produce anywhere near to the same way that he did in the Hawks series.

Outside of Curry, the Sixers do not leave have any clear options for a third scorer. The other returning starter, Danny Green, is certainly not capable of being the third option on a quality team.

This leaves us with only two other viable candidates for this role: Shake Milton and Tyrese Maxey. These two players are currently in a heated competition for the starting point guard spot on opening day. Keith Pompey recently quoted Doc Rivers’s comments on the starting point guard competition.

"“Shake probably spaces the floor better with his shot. Maxey gives us the speed though. Both are learning how to be playmakers and run the team. Shake definitely is ahead of Maxey defensively.They both are pressuring the ball which I’m very happy with.”"

Both of these players have shown flashes of brilliance in the past. In the Hawks series, Shake Milton played 14 minutes of game two and scored 14 points, securing the win for the Sixers. Also, in game six, Tyrese Maxey scored 16 points, leading the Sixers to a game seven opportunity.

Though it currently sounds like Shake Milton has a slight edge on Maxey, one clear advantage that Tyrese Maxey has over Milton is his superior floater. Tyrese Maxey, as a rookie, was one of the best players in the league at converting floaters. Maxey has the ability to be an incredible pick-and-roll point guard, which is exactly what the Sixers need to pair with Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris. Because of this, I believe the Sixers will allow him to play with a lot of freedom during the regular season. In the short term, Tyrese Maxey may not be the best person to be the third leading option right now, but his high potential and the high potential of this team being lead by a pick-and-roll maestro will certainly factor into Doc Rivers’ decisions.

Most likely the Sixers will start this season without having a consistent third option to score outside of Embiid and Harris. There will be games where Curry, Milton, and Maxey all step into that role, but none of them can be counted on to carry this role for a team with championship aspirations. If the Sixers are going to be title contenders this year, Maxey or Milton will need to be able to step into this role. Consistently being a primary ball-handler, initiator, creator, and scorer for this team.

Ultimately what matters for the Sixers this season is how well they perform in the playoffs. Because of this, Tyrese Maxey should be the third option from day one. This will probably lead to some frustrating nights and infuriating play by Tyrese Maxey this year but hopefully will lead to greater success for the 76ers this year and in the future.

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