Can Tyrese Maxey be an All-Star starter this season?

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Maxey sixers
Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) drives to the basket during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic, Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2023, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

If you haven’t noticed, Philadelphia 76ers‘ rising star Tyrese Maxey has taken another leap. For all of his doubters and teams that passed on him, Maxey has proven himself in many ways in his short time with the Sixers.

He’s not only a legitimate top-scoring option, he’s a better playmaker. His defense has improved, and he’s elevated his game with the right attitude. If teams didn’t know what to expect out of Maxey before he was drafted out of Kentucky in 2020, it’s clear that they do now.

The most interesting part about his ascension is that nobody saw it coming. Over time, he’s become the $20 bill you find in your pocket after you forgot it was there. He is the empty parking space closest to the store entrance on a busy day. After all of the draft misses, drama, and disappointment since 2014, he is the ultimate consolation prize for every Sixers fan.

Just look at his numbers this year. He is averaging nearly 26 points, almost 6.4 assists, and 3.7 rebounds per game. He is racking up these impressive stats, playing just over 37 minutes a night. All of these numbers are career highs for Maxey. Here is the most astounding fact that should make every Sixers fan smile: Maxey just turned 23 years old. 

You can label his emergence luck or recompense from the basketball gods. Whatever the case, the next label you can tag him is most certainly All-Star. However, the question at hand is whether or not Maxey will start as one of the top two guards in the Eastern Conference.

Who is Maxey’s competition to be an All-Star starter?

Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) shoots between New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) and center Jonas Valanciunas (17) in the first half of an NBA basketball game in New Orleans, Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2023. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

Let’s look at the competition. You can’t ignore the rise of Tyrese Haliburton, who is averaging almost 25 points and is dishing out a league-high 12.7 assists a game. He has his Pacers playing like a contender in the east, so it’s safe to say he will get one of the starting spots for All-Star weekend.

Another guard who is knocking on the door for the All-Star starting position is former Villanova player and current New York Knick Jalen Brunson. A prudent floor general with outstanding fundamentals, Brunson has similar numbers in terms of points, rebounds, and assists: 25.6, 4.0, and 6.2, respectively. And he has slightly better numbers in terms of 3-point percentage (45.3). The Knicks guard is putting up great numbers, but his team has an inferior record in the conference and sits in seventh place in the East.

What about Trae Young? His Hawks are below .500, so that might impact his starting nod, but his production is better in points (28.3) and assists (11.3). What could boost Maxey is his superior shooting percentages across the board. It is no NBA secret that Trae Young has to put up a high volume of shots to reach his scoring average. 

Then there is, of course, Damian Lillard, the perennial All-Star transplanted from the West into the East. He’s been playing next to Giannis Antetokounmpo, but Lillard’s numbers are similar to Maxey’s in terms of production. However, his efficiency is lower than Maxey’s. However, Lillard is averaging 25.5 points a game, along with 6.8 assists. Maxey is shooting better from the field (45.8 percent to Lillard’s 43.1 percent) and from the 3-point line (38.8 percent to Lillard’s 36.5 percent).

If that’s Maxey’s competition, it’s a tight race for the starting spot next to Haliburton on All-Star Sunday. Will Maxey maintain his scoring pace as February approaches? All signs point toward the affirmative. Whether or not he is granted the high honor of representing the Eastern Conference as an elite backcourt starter is up to the fans, players, and media.

If he does not get the starting spot, he is highly likely to be a reserve. No matter what, Maxey has become Philly’s newest son, captivating the fanbase with his play and endearing it with his smile. Should he get snubbed, another topic will be available for discussion – NBA Most Improved Player.