Some nights, Philadelphia 76ers rookie Tyrese Maxey is nothing more than a spectator. Since he's in his first NBA season, there are times Maxey doesn't get the opportunity to clock in unless he's picking up garbage time minutes.
But with Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Furkan Korkmaz unavailable to play on Saturday night against the Detroit Pistons, Sixers head coach Doc Rivers decided that the rookie spectator was not only going to pick up some minutes -- but he was going to be in the team's starting lineup.
Maxey has had his ups and downs this season. For the most part, though, he's shown substantial upside and even notable development when it comes to his defense and his shot. Sometimes, he might quietly have a solid performance, but his Saturday night showing versus Detroit couldn't be overlooked.
Rivers mentioned after the game he needed somebody to bring high energy to the floor in Simmons' absence, and Maxey surely didn't disappoint.
“He gets out on the court and causes havoc," said Sixers veteran center Dwight Howard. "He gets downhill. He’s getting to the basket. I think he’s getting his touch, and he’s getting a little bit better of a feel for the game of basketball. This year has been really tough for a rookie.
"No Summer League, not a lot of practices, and stuff like that. So, for him to come in and do what he’s doing, playing big minutes when guys like Ben and Seth are out, I think he’s stepped up, and he’s done a great job. I’m real proud of him.”
Maxey checked into Saturday's game for 35 minutes. He drained seven of his 11 field goal attempts on offense, knocking down two of his three three-point shots. In total, Maxey collected 22 points, the second-highest scoring total of the game behind Joel Embiid's 29-point night.
“That’s what we need,” Embiid explained. “That’s huge for us. Obviously, Ben does a great job of it, and I mentioned it before, it’s not about defense. That’s what we miss the most -- just that pace. For Tyrese to come in and be able to do that, that helps us a lot. That helps our shooters, that helps me. We got a bunch of easy baskets, and the game just becomes easier.”
Thanks to Maxey, Howard, and Embiid's contributions, the Sixers dominated the Pistons 118-104. With that victory, the Sixers picked up their eighth-straight victory and advanced to 47-21 on the year, further building on their status as the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference.