Before the Philadelphia 76ers were hit by injuries and COVID-19 (again), things were going exceptionally well for the club. Although Ben Simmons stayed on the sidelines, the Doc Rivers crew managed to win eight of the first 10 games.
Though a number of factors helped make this early run possible – Joel Embiid’s steady presence, Tobias Harris playing like an All-Star, Seth Curry’s hot shoot, the bench strengthening, and others. – The contributions of the second caretaker Tyrese Maxey cannot be overrated.
His strong game has continued as well, although the early run suddenly turned into a losing streak of five games. At this point in time, the former 21st overall pick scores 17.5 points, 4.4 assists and 3.7 rebounds per contest. He also rocks an offensive score of 113.5 over 536 minutes with a team high.
So good was Maxey, in fact, that a former league manager and statistics guru compared his possible career path to that of a certain four-time NBA champion and future Hall of Famer.
In a piece that breaks down some early season trends that fans can actually believe in, The Athletic’s John Hollinger made it a point to sing Maxey’s praises. Hollinger called him “the Roadrunner” and noted that Philly’s fill-in-floor general is currently thriving because of “blast-off, beep-beep speed, and unusual ability to get runners and bankers moving”.
He also asked the following question, “Does this combination remind you of another 6-2 guard who was a late first-round pick?”
The player Hollinger was referring to was, of course, the San Antonio Spurs legend and teardrop expert Tony Parker. He writes:
While Maxey makes these expectations a little unfair, given the Simmons drama, having a Parker-like player alongside Embiid would be a godsend in the long run. And it shouldn’t be too much effort.
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Beyond their mutual backcourt role, their small stature and the somewhat unorthodox offensive skills, Maxey’s second year jump also resembles that of Parker.
Here’s how things went for the former in 15 games in 2021-22:
And that’s what Parker did with the Spurs:
It’s not a 1: 1 comparison; Maxey has been referred to more as a goalscorer while Parker was better trained as a quarterback, but the statistical similarities nonetheless reflect some of their other aspects.
Given the Spurs beating then-New Jersey Nets for the title in Parker’s second season, Sixers fans are no doubt hoping Hollinger is into something here.