The Philadelphia 76ers currently employ a three-time All-Star point guard in Ben Simmons. However, he remains disgruntled following his disappointing showing against the Atlanta Hawks in the second round of the NBA Playoffs last season.
With Simmons absent from the team, the Sixers are currently in the midst of a point guard battle, according to head coach Doc Rivers. During the first preseason game of the offseason, Rivers started the second-year guard Tyrese Maxey.
Then when the second game rolled around on Thursday night, Shake Milton ran with the starters while Maxey came off the bench. "We were just looking at different guys," Rivers explained after the game. "I thought (Shake Milton) played well. I thought he settled down because he struggled early and then started playing really well. So, yeah, I mean, it's a competition."
Although Rivers views Milton and Maxey's preseason performances as a battle for the starting point guard position, two other starters don't necessarily see it that way. Following Thursday night's victory over Toronto, 76ers starters Joel Embiid and Danny Green brushed off the idea of there being a point guard competition.
"I don't think there are any competitions," said Joel Embiid. "We're just trying to find the right lineups. We want to win. Everybody understands that. I don't think any of them is gonna be mad coming off the bench or starting, so I think right now, we're just finding ways to win games and what works and what doesn't. I don't think it's necessarily a battle. I think we're just trying to come together as a group."
Danny Green, who's been in the NBA longer than any current Sixer, holds a lot of value as a leader in the Sixers' locker room. As he's been with several organizations since entering the league in 2009, Green's seen his fair share of position battles, and he doesn't believe that Milton nor Maxey see themselves in a battle currently.
"I don't see it as a competition," Green explained. "I don't think they see it as a competition either. They both know what they bring to the table, and it also depends on who we're facing and the matchup. So, that's Doc's job to figure that out. They're both great for us, and they're both trying to figure it out, and they've done a good job so far of taking on the challenge."
Roles reversed for both players in the first two outings. Maxey struggled in the starting lineup on Monday but had himself a solid bounce-back game coming off the bench on Thursday. Meanwhile, Milton had a rough preseason opener coming off the bench but showed flashes to Doc Rivers during the second game as a starter.
Maxey and Milton will probably switch roles once again when the Sixers take the court on Monday for a matchup against the Brooklyn Nets. Then, when the preseason finale against Detroit rolls around, the Sixers will likely change it up once again, giving both players two games to start and two games to come off the bench.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.