Sixers: Projecting the 2022-23 starting five and bench unit

James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Sixers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
James Harden, P.J. Tucker, Sixers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
(Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Sixers starting shooting guard: Tyrese Maxey

The speedy guard now enters his third NBA season with higher expectations than ever. Tyrese Maxey was something of a revelation in 2021-22, breaking out of Doc Rivers’ rookie jail and swiftly locking up his position in the starting five. By season’s end, Maxey spent many a night as the team’s No. 2 scorer and most electric playmaker.

Maxey benefitted more than anyone from Harden’s arrival at the trade deadline. Not only was Harden a valuable mentor on and off the court, but he freed up Maxey to play to his strengths. Rather than getting bogged down in primary playmaking duties, Maxey was able to spot-up from 3 and attack rotating defenders. He’s already one of the most deadly slashing guards in basketball, and playing off of the gravitational pull of Harden and Embiid puts Maxey in a prime position to succeed every night.

The next step for Maxey is defense. He competes hard and he showed flashes of brilliance in line with his absurd athleticism, but he’s still exploitable on that side of the ball. Philadelphia acquired a lot of size and versatility over the offseason, but it would still be quite useful if Maxey could become a more solid on-ball stopper — especially with Danny Green now gone and Matisse Thybulle’s offense looking nowhere close to workable as of the postseason.

With his relentless work ethic and his stated goal of getting “one percent better each day,” Maxey could be in line for another breakout season. His next leap could be from rising star to All-Star, especially if Harden arrives in shape and the Sixers get off to a strong start in the conference standings.