By Jerry Wein

The Sixers head west after Saturday night’s loss in Indy.

They are 8-6, and they face the Jazz, Nuggets, Blazers, Kings and Warriors before coming home on Nov. 27 for the Wolves.

COVID has played havoc with the team that started 8-2.

Joel Embiid and Matisse Thybulle are still out, and Tobias Harris just came back.

And then there is the Ben Simmons cluster fuck.

One of the brightest spots to come out of that has been the emergence of Tyrese Maxey.

The second-year guard slotted right into the starting point guard spot and hasn’t disappointed. Scratch that, Maxey has thrived.

The Kentucky product has been terrific in all 12 starts but arguably had his coming-out party on November 9 versus Milwaukee. In front of a national audience, Maxey poured in 31 points and dished out four dimes with no turnovers. TNT analyst Reggie Miller couldn’t stop gushing about him on the national broadcast.

He’s bona fide playmaker on the offensive end. And his defense has been vastly improved in Year 2. Maxey held Bucks star Jrue Holiday to eight points on 4-of-14 shooting. It’s been that way all year as he’s locked down guys like Damian Lillard, Trae Young, Lonzo Ball. His teammates have marveled at the poise from a kid who just turned legal drinking age on November 4.

“I think you’re seeing the same thing, the kid is unreal,” teammate Georges Niang said. “What I think about what I was doing at 21 years old, it would not be scoring 31 points in an NBA game and being able to play large amounts of minutes and walking every day with a smile on his face.

“The kid has so much energy and so much pizazz, he’s so poised and I am so happy for him because everything that’s going on with our team, this allows him to have growth in his career.”

When the Sixers were shopping Simmons last year, teams had been inquiring about the availability of Maxey. The Houston Rockets asked for Simmons, Maxey, Matisse Thybulle, plus future draft picks in exchange for James Harden. Sixers president Daryl Morey ultimately turned that deal down and he’s sure glad he did. Now Maxey is thought to be “untouchable” after his stellar play to start the 2021-22 campaign.

Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer cited “Sixers staffers” saying that the only way the team would unload Maxey would be for either Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal. He explained the failed Harden trade and wrote the following:

In those conversations with Houston, the Sixers were said to have discussed each of Tyrese Maxey and Matisse Thybulle in addition to Simmons and multiple future draft picks. Today, though, Sixers staffers have been encouraged by the early returns of Tyrese Maxey as a starting guard, and the 21-year-old would seem to be untouchable in any Simmons trade conversation that didn’t bring back an All-NBA guard such as Damian Lillard or Bradley Beal.


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