At this point, it feels as if no standard can be set too high for Tyrese Maxey to reach. The 21-year-old continues to impress and has shown some of the most drastic improvements of any NBA player in his young career. Maxey averaged 8.0 points per game and shot 30.1% from beyond the three-point arc in his rookie season.
The second-year guard took a massive leap forward in his second season by raising his scoring average to 17.5 points per game and shooting 42.7% on three-point attempts this season. This impressive shooting percentage was the third-best three-point shooting percentage in the entire NBA this season and is a massive reason why he has become such an on-court weapon this season.
All of this rapid development was put on full display in game one of the Sixers’ opening-round matchup with the Toronto Raptors. Facing legitimate playoff pressure and expectations for the first time in his career, Maxey not only performed up to par- he made the game his moment.
Tyrese Maxey ended the opening game with 38 points and knocked down 5 of his 8 three-point attempts, including a near logo shot to make the Wells Fargo Center erupt. The former 21st overall pick led the Sixers in shot attempts, three-pointers made and also was a team-high +20. Chants of “Maxey” echoed throughout the arena, especially during the 21 points he poured in during the third quarter.
In the short term, it is obviously incredibly exciting to see Tyrese Maxey playing at this level. With so much defensive focus on Joel Embiid and James Harden, Maxey can capitalize on facing an oftentimes inferior defender. This matchup with the Raptors is specifically one that Maxey can capitalize on as his quickness is a major outlier when compared against the Toronto roster. The Raptors are loaded with length and verticality, but they lack quick feet and top-end speed. Tyrese Maxey possesses a gear that few others on this planet do, and making use of this will create scoring opportunities with ease throughout the series.
This electrifying pace is the key to Tyrese Maxey’s success as it opens up the rest of his game. The threat of being able to blow by his defender oftentimes allows him to walk into three-point attempts or mid-range jumpers. Forcing defenders to make the difficult decision of cheating towards protecting the rim or cheating toward jumpers is a dangerous position to be in and works in Maxey’s favor regardless.
In the long-term, this performance feels like one that meant a little more than just having a very good game. It was a statement that Maxey’s maturation process is much further along than many people have acknowledged. It was a performance that put Tyrese Maxey on the national map and solidified the belief that the keys to this Sixers organization will one day be handed to him.
The success that he is currently having is also a massive testament to the work that Maxey has put in. Whether it is Doc Rivers, Joel Embiid, or an assistant coach, you will not find a person in the Sixers organization who does not rave about his work ethic. Questions about his shooting ability that allowed the 6’2 guard to fall to the Sixers in the draft and to have this margin of improvement in just two seasons is truly remarkable.
The Sixers still have three more games to win in this matchup with the Raptors before they can punch their ticket to the next round, but Maxey is certain to play a major role in this. This game one performance may go down as Tyrese Maxey’s coming-out party as a superstar in the NBA for a long time moving forward.