Basketball is back for fans of Philadelphia as the Philadelphia 76ers traveled to Brooklyn and took on the Nets in their first taste of preseason action. The preseason Sixers made short work of the Nets, downing them by a score of 127-108 in what was Ben Simmons’ first opportunity to play his former squad.
There were many lessons learned from tonight’s action, mostly positive — as can be inferred by the score. Here are a few of the top takeaways from the game:
Tyrese Maxey is primed for yet another leap
Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey is entering his third season in the NBA. After making an impressive leap from year one to year two, it seems the young star in the making may be on the verge of yet another jump this season.
Maxey only played in the first half, just 14 minutes, but in that time, he was nothing short of stellar.
Twenty points, three assists with a steal, and a strong performance at the free-throw line (6/6). Just an absolutely electric start to the preseason for the young Sixer.
The ability he showed to run the offense was especially encouraging. If the Sixers are able to rely on — and utilize — Maxey a bit more in that capacity, this could be the start of a truly special season for the rising star — potentially even, All-Star caliber.
De’Anthony Melton is a menace
Sixers fans have seen their fair share of frustrating players. De’Anthony Melton is yet one more frustrating player to play in Philadelphia, however, in a much different fashion.
While some players have been frustrating due to an inability to shoot, throw an entry pass, or keep up with the opposition while running the floor, Melton suffers from none of these weaknesses. Instead of being a source of frustration for Sixers fans, De’Anthony Melton is instead a source of frustration for the opposition.
Those who paid attention to Melton’s days in Memphis were well aware that he is a menace defensively, though seeing it firsthand is truly a different experience.
It has been some time since the Sixers had a player who can defend in the same way that Melton does. For years, the Sixers have been embarrassed by the likes of Kemba Walker, Damian Lillard, and other such guards. De’Anthony Melton appears to be ready to change that going forward for Philadelphia.
Paul Reed deserves consistent minutes
The Sixers’ chaotic big man was up to his hijinx yet again in his first taste of preseason action. With high energy, Reed impressed often, particularly in the third quarter, where he collected two steals, two rebounds (both offensive), a block, and six points.
What was particularly interesting was that Reed displayed an ability to function alongside the recently signed Montrezl Harrell. Questions quickly arose after Harrell’s signing asking what Reed’s role would be for the upcoming season. Many wondered if head coach Doc Rivers would neglect the energetic player for Harrell, who, while also energetic, is a historically inferior defender.
By demonstrating that the two can play side by side, a path for more minutes has been discovered for Reed, something that should transfer over to the regular season.
While his style is unorthodox, Reed has proven yet again that he deserves consistent minutes this season.
Trimming the Sixers’ roster will be no easy task
The Philadelphia 76ers’ current roster has 17 players (not including two-way players). They must trim that down to 15 by the start of the season but early on, it’s clear that it will not be an easy job for the Sixers’ front office.
In their first bit of preseason action, Furkan Korkmaz did well to elevate himself among others looking for playing time with 15 points in just 19 minutes. Charles Bassey looked like a legitimate backup big exhibiting strength and rebounding prowess. Isaiah Joe and Georges Niang also looked capable.
2021 G League MVP Trevelin Queen played intriguing basketball as well, demonstrating an impressive level of activity, and Jaden Springer impressed — defensively at least — as well.
It was a struggle for Shake Milton tonight. However, he will have time to re-establish his value — and likely has a longer leash, to begin with.
There is still some time before decisions must be made. However, it’s clear that no matter the direction the team goes, it will not be an easy task to trim the roster down.