With the starters being given the night off for the final game of the regular season, rookie Tyrese Maxey stepped into the center stage to run the Sixers’ offense. Despite having just 901 total NBA minutes under his belt, Maxey looked as if he was a 10-year vet. Finishing with 30 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, the former Kentucky guard proved he should be a significant part of the Sixers’ future plans and in competition for the current playoff rotation.
Catching the Eye of his Teammates:
Since coming over to the Sixers, George Hill has filled a valuable role as a mentor for Maxey. Hill talked about his matchups with Maxey in the scrimmages at practice and how impressed he was with the first-round pick. As George Hill put it, “I think he is going to be one of the top guards in the league for years to come… I love everything about him. Kid has heart.”
This is high praise from the twelve-year veteran who has been around countless young guards during his NBA career. Hill also went on to talk about the pace of Maxey’s play and his unique burst has been spoken about throughout the season. Averaging just 15 minutes per game, Maxey never has known when his name would be called, yet he has brought relentless energy and a positive spark in every chance he has been given.
Doc Rivers’ Thoughts:
Doc Rivers has given praise to Maxey’s infectious energy throughout the season. In several games this season, Rivers looked no further than number 0 to provide a spark when the team looked dead. By becoming a reliable spark, Maxey has maintained a spot in the rotation in a fairly deep Sixers’ bench unit.
One of the changes that Rivers has put on Maxey’s game this season has been cutting down his reliance on the floater. This has been Maxey’s go-to shot in college and early in his pro career, but Rivers believed there would be better results if Tyrese used his quickness to get to the basket more. Rivers also credits this focus on opening up Maxey’s passing lanes and allowing him to get to the free-throw line more. Doc also put it that, “The kid listens, I mean he works his butt off…extremely coachable.”
The most notable (and necessary) improvement in Maxey’s game has been his confidence in his spot-up shooting. Maxey shot just 29.2% from the three-point line in college and was looked at as purely a slasher coming into the league. While he showcased an impressive array of lay-ins and floaters during his time at Kentucky, the lack of a reliable jump shot was a legitimate concern- especially considering the spacing issues that had previously plagued the Sixers.
While he shot just 30.1% from beyond the arc on the season, Maxey’s percentage increased by 6% after the all-star break and he has shot an impressive 43.8% from three during the month of May. Even more notable than the numbers, Maxey looked uncomfortable shooting off the catch early on in the year and often forced in a dribble to set up his shot. In last night’s game, Maxey shot 3 of 4 from beyond the arc with all three makes coming off the catch-and-shoot. This is a major sign of progression in his game that could play a huge role in his ability to fit in on the court alongside Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
Following last night’s victory, Maxey was asked how he maintains his confidence despite his lack of minutes. Wise beyond his years, the rookie replied- “I put in the work so I kinda had to create my own confidence… Just working every single day, staying in the gym, I think that’s what creates confidence.” It is extremely impressive to see the massive growth in Maxey’s game despite the lack of minutes. At 20-years old, hopes are sky-high for Tyrese Maxey and he is a player the Sixers will be extremely excited to watch grow into his full potential.
Photo by John Korduner/Icon Sportswire