The Philadelphia 76ers have many times gone to the point guard by committee approach this season. With Ben Simmons holding out and demanding a trade, the team's roster lacks a true point guard. The results of the committee approach have been mixed through the first 36 games of the season.
Tyrese Maxey stepped into the point guard role for the 76ers to begin the season. He, for a second-year player who never played point guard before, produced well in his new role. He is averaging 4.5 assists per game while also doing a good job of controlling the basketball, committing only 1.3 turnovers per game. The offense is clunky at times, but Maxey has shown a ton of potential in his new role running the offense.
However, the 76ers have multiple other options who can step up and run the offense in spurts. With Maxey being put in the NBA's health and safety protocols before Monday's game against the Houston Rockets, the team will have to find ways to manage and tap into their other options at point guard over the next couple games.
Seth Curry has shown he has the ability to run the offense at times. He is currently in the midst of one of his better stretches as a passer, averaging 6.2 assists per game over his last six games. His recent success passing the ball led to acting head coach Dan Burke going with him at point guard to open up Monday's win over the Rockets.
Curry got into foul trouble early in the game, forcing Burke to go with some other options at point guard in the first half. Shake Milton has shown flashes as the team's point guard off the bench, but he also got into foul trouble and ended up having to leave the game with an injury with 7:26 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Burke made the switch to having Furkan Korkmaz run the team's offense in the second half. Korkmaz flourished in the role, finishing with six assists – including three in the second half. The Turkish native had his best game of the season – and maybe his career – against the Rockets, going for 24 points on 8-of-14 shooting, a career-high 11 rebounds and six assists. Korkmaz spoke after the game about the increased comfort he gets while running the offense.
"When the ball is in your hands, you feel the game more," Korkmaz said. "That’s my mental thing. Of course, it shouldn’t be that way, you gotta be focused, but when you dribble the ball down instead of just touching the ball every three or four minutes, you have the ball every time even if you don’t shoot it, you get the feeling of the ball. Sometimes as a scorer, it’s hard to get that feeling but when you are a point guard, you feel like you have control and then there are a lot of guys looking for you and you feel like they have your back. That’s why it gives more confidence and I feel real confidence when I play point guard. I don’t feel pressure when I bring the ball down, I know what I am calling, I know whether to go to Joel, Tobias, Seth, what we are running and that’s what’s important to know as a point guard."
The 76ers have previously experimented with playing Korkmaz at point guard and have gotten decent results. His performance against the Rockets, combined with his mentality around running the offense, should definitely lead to Korkmaz getting some more minutes at point guard.
Philadelphia also has some non-traditional options capable of spreading the ball around. Superstar big man Joel Embiid, in addition to all the other things he does for the Sixers, is having the best season of his career as passer. He is averaging a career-high 4.2 assists per game and turning the ball over a career-low 2.7 times per game. He has vastly improved both his ability as a passer and his ability to understand the double teams which often get sent over his way. Against the Rockets, he finished with 31 points, 15 rebounds and 10 assists – good for his third career triple-double.
With Maxey likely to miss at least a few games while in the NBA's health and safety protocols, the 76ers will have to dig deeper into the committee approach they have used at point guard throughout the entire season.