The 76ers‘ season ended in the second round once again this year, the fourth time in five years that happened. With the season-ending in a slightly disappointing way, it’s important to look at the bright spots, especially in the midst of another offseason with many questions. Perhaps the most significant bright spot this season for the Philadelphia 76ers was the improved play of rising star Tyrese Maxey.
Tyrese Maxey was incredible this year. When the Sixers’ second-year player was called upon as the new starting point guard, the Kentucky product did not disappoint. Maxey averaged 17.5 points per game this year, an astronomical jump from the 8.0 points per game he averaged last year. He also showed continuous growth as a starter and as a leader for the 76ers. However, even more, important is the jump in both volume and efficiency he took.
Maxey’s Growth & Fit with James Harden
Last year, Maxey was a good but unpolished scorer. He shot 46.2% from the field on 7.0 field goals attempted per game while shooting 30.1% from deep on only 1.7 three-pointers attempted per game. Compared to this year, Maxey is shooting over 13 shots per game (13.3) and making 6.4 of them for a field goal percentage of 48.5%. While the increase in shooting percentage may not be the most drastic, the fact that it’s coming with nearly doubled levels of volume is insane.
The most awe-striking improvement comes in the form of Maxey’s three-point shooting. Shooting more than twice as many threes this year as last (4.1 to 1.7), Maxey has raised his three-point percentage to 42.7%, a leap sending him into the top 5 in three-point percentage for players making a minimum of 82 threes this season per StatMuse. Maxey also showed another encouraging factor – Maxey got even better when James Harden arrived.
For better or worse, the Philadelphia 76ers are tied to James Harden. What James Harden gets paid this offseason goes back and forth, but Sixers fans should have one worry removed from their mind: Harden and Maxey can coexist. More than coexist, in fact, but thrive. Without James Harden, Maxey was scoring 17.3 points per game on 47.5/38.7/87.2 splits.
With Harden, Maxey’s scoring started to increase. Despite a slump after the hot start to the Harden-Maxey backcourt, Maxey’s scoring in 21 games with Harden sits at 18.0 points per game on 51.5/50.0/84.7 splits. He was even better in the playoffs, averaging 20.8 points per game on 48.4/37.7/94.0 splits.
Maxey is arguably the second-best player on this entire team and deserves every ounce of praise that he has received this season and more so. He was the second-best player on this 76ers team for most of the year and exceeded all expectations that any of us could have placed on him.
While the Philadelphia 76ers continue their star hunt, for better or for worse, Tyrese Maxey should be viewed as completely untouchable. The level he’s playing at, after just one season starting, should leave Sixers fans and management salivating at the thought of Maxey in his prime.