Former Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey typically finds himself coming off the bench for the Philadelphia 76ers. On Saturday, though, the circumstances were much different.
As the Philadelphia 76ers learned of a positive COVID-19 test in the midst of their matchup against the Brooklyn Nets on Thursday, the entire team has to quarantine in New York ahead of Saturday's matchup against the Denver Nuggets.
On Friday night, the Sixers returned to Philly with intentions of playing on Saturday. Unfortunately, they were without a good portion of their roster. Tobias Harris, Matisse Thybulle, Shake Milton, Vincent Poirier, Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons, Terrance Ferguson, Furkan Korkmaz, Mike Scott, and Seth Curry all sat out for Saturday's game.
With those guys out, the 76ers trotted out an unusual starting lineup of Maxey, Isaiah Joe, Dakota Mathias, Danny Green, and Dwight Howard. While Howard and Green, two well-known veterans, were expected to lead the charge, Sixers rookie Tyrese Maxey flashed some first-round star power, which caught the attention of last year's Rookie of the Year, Ja Morant.
Last season, Morant entered the NBA as the second-overall pick right behind Duke standout Zion Willamson. While many NBA fans' attention remained on Williamson's eventual debut, Morant got off to a quick start with the Memphis Grizzlies and vastly became a rising star in the pros.
Morant tuned into the Sixers versus Nuggets matchup on Saturday afternoon and liked what he saw out of Maxey. Heading into the game, the 2020 21st overall pick was coming off a 16-point career-high performance against Brooklyn.
In the first half of Saturday's game, he surpassed that high as he drained 11 of his 19 shots from the field, totaling for 22 points in 21 minutes of action. Although Philly struggled against the Nuggets in the second-half, Maxey remained a bright spot for the Sixers as he had over 30 points heading into the fourth quarter.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_