When the Philadelphia 76ers experienced a COVID-19 outbreak in the early parts of the 2020-21 season, one that overlapped with back tightness and knee soreness for Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, respectively, they had to play a game against the Denver Nuggets that they probably shouldn't have had to participate in. After all, they had just seven players who could go, plus an eighth activated in Mike Scott, though he couldn't actually play due to a knee injury.
At its end, the game could fairy be described as a few things. It was a loss for the Sixers. It was something of a mess to see such a mishmash of available players attempt to take the court together amid a confusing time.
And it was, most importantly, the Tyrese Maxey Game. In just the 10th game of his young career, the crafty guard showed off his scoring chops and somehow kept Philly in the game for way longer than they probably should have been.
We've since seen that his 39-point outburst wasn't a fluke, but it wasn't until this most recent stretch of 76ers contests — another one, perhaps not coincidentally, that has been marred by COVID-19 — that he's seemingly ascended into the next tier of stardom. That display we saw against the Nuggets? That could, more or less, become an every-game sort of thing, and we're here for it.
In the last 10 days, five of which were game days for the Sixers, Maxey is averaging 25.2 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.6 assists on 57.5 percent from the field and a scalding 52.2 percent from deep. Not quite a prolific three-point shooter, he's showing that he's put in the work, raising his attempts per game from 1.7 his rookie season to 3.3 attempts per game so far this year, with an accuracy increase of over 13 percent on treys.
But back to this particular stretch of insane production. Over this 10-day span, his game score — which was created by John Hollinger as a way to "give a rough measure of a player's productivity" — stacks up with a group of players you might not yet consider him a part of (via Basketball Reference):
The points per game figure of 25.2 is good for 12th in the league over that span, beating out names like Luka Doncic, James Harden, Damian Lillard, Bradley Beal and others. And while you may wish for better results with such strong performances than a 1-4 team record, it's not easy carrying a squad that's missing Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons (obviously) and a number of other key contributors against teams like the Bucks and the Jazz. Beating the Nuggets on Thursday night in such definitive fashion, thanks in large part to Maxey's 22-point night on efficient shooting splits, was a welcome sight for the 76ers as they await Embiid's return.
Does it seem like the 76ers are in no particular hurry to deal Simmons and find a replacement for a 2021-22 playoff push? It's not too hard to see why they might be happy, for now, with what they've got, instead of sacrificing more potential value for a quicker resolution.