76ers projected lineup and rotations heading into 2023-24 season

Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
Joel Embiid, Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /
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Tyrese Maxey (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Tyrese Maxey (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

Philadelphia 76ers starting shooting guard: Tyrese Maxey

No change here, with Tyrese Maxey cemented as the pride and joy of a perennially depressed fanbase. Nick Nurse has already talked about helping Maxey take the next step as a playmaker. That means more pick-and-roll actions and more opportunities for Maxey to facilitate the offense. Hopefully he has been taking notes on Harden.

The viability of Maxey as a full-time point guard is on shaky ground. His deadly first step allows him to penetrate the defense and create advantages on the regular, but he’s not the most passing-oriented player. Maxey tends to get tunnel vision driving toward the basket and he can record-scratch on occasion when asked to make complex decisions with the ball.

Ultimately, Maxey plays his best basketball when paired with another playmaking guard. Harden has been the perfect backcourt teammate, spoon-feeding Maxey open 3s and empowering him to sprint up the floor in transition and use his speed to eviscerate unset defenses. Harden’s hit-ahead passes are a staple of Maxey’s offensive diet and Maxey consistently benefits from the double teams Harden draws in the middle of the floor, which create seams in the defense for Maxey to attack off the catch.

Defense is another huge concern for Maxey, whether he’s nominally the two-guard or he transitions to point guard. He’s only 6-foot-3 and while he’s a tremendous athlete with a strong core and the heart of a champion, he’s regularly out of position. He doesn’t have the fundamentals down; that’s an area of essential improvement under Nick Nurse, whose defensive schemes are notoriously complex.

Primary backup shooting guard: De’Anthony Melton

De’Anthony Melton was a critical piece to the puzzle for the Sixers last season. Daryl Morey plucked him away from Memphis for dead money and a late first-round pick, which feels absurd in hindsight. Especially with the Grizzlies looking awfully short on guard depth in advance of next season.

The Sixers will continue to lean on Melton as a defensive Swiss Army knife. Nurse is going to love him. Melton can handle the challenging on-ball matchups, but he’s equally — if not more — impactful off the ball. He’s constantly mucking up passing lanes with his 6-foot-8 wingspan, to the tune of 1.6 steals per game (sixth-most in the NBA last season).

Melton hit 39 percent of his 3s too. He’s limited as a creator and he shouldn’t be asked to make too many complex decisions, but the Sixers already have their primary creation engines in place. Melton is there to space the floor, occasionally attack closeouts, and make the simple connective plays to keep the offense humming. He was frequently the third or fourth-best player on the Sixers for long stretches of last season.

Other players who could receive minutes at shooting guard: Patrick Beverley, Jaden Springer, Furkan Korkmaz

One of the Sixers’ few offseason signings was Patrick Beverley, who joined on a simple one-year minimum contract. He’s not much of a contributor on offense these days, but Beverley can still hound the point of attack on defense. He’s a good locker room presence and the kind of instigator Philadelphia has lacked in years past. He will probably scrap his way to a role in Nurse’s rotation.

We are also approaching do-or-die territory for third-year guard Jaden Springer, the No. 28 pick from the 2021 NBA Draft. He has been almost exclusively a G-League player so far, but flashes of defense at every level, including Summer League, have left fans optimistic about his future. If the guard rotation gets cleared out via a Harden trade, he could have a real path to minutes. The question is, can he shoot enough to stay on the floor?