Tyrese Maxey remains “untouchable” amid Lillard trade rumors

Tyrese Maxey
CHICAGO, IL – OCTOBER 29: Philadelphia 76ers guard Tyrese Maxey (0) brings the ball up court during a NBA game between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Chicago Bulls on October 29, 2022 at the United Center in Chicago, IL. (Photo by Melissa Tamez/Icon Sportswire)

Portland Trail Blazers superstar Damian Lillard has requested trade signaling the end of an era in Rip City. Among the long list of suitors for the seven-time Altsar are the Philadelphia 76ers, who are facing their own changing of the point guard as they search for a trade partner to acquire James Harden.

Long proceeding word of Lillard’s availability, many had surmised the Sixers could offer a package built around their exciting young guard, Tyrese Maxey. However, that idea continues to be shot down as multiple reports have stated that Philadelphia plans on continuing to build around the electric 22-year-old as opposed to shipping him off for a more established player.

Tyrese Maxey
Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey (0) reacts after scoring during the second half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, Saturday, April 22, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Philly Voice’s Kyle Neubeck was the first to report the Sixers’ intentions, followed by ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne, and most recently. NBA Insider Brian Windhorst. Windhorst, who previously mentioned the idea of including Maxey in a package for Lillard, became the latest to confirm Neubeck’s initial report of Maxey’s unavailability Monday morning on his The Hoop Collective Podcast. Windhorst stated:

“They want you to know that you can’t have Tyrese Maxey. Prime Michael Jordan is available? Don’t call. Twenty-five-year-old LeBron James is available? Lose our number. Giannis Antetokoumpo says, ‘I want to be a Sixer? If Tyrese Maxey is the ask, just keep walking.”,

— Brian Windhorst

Is that a bit of hyperbole? Perhaps, but it’s not without purpose. It truly does get the point across that the Sixers have no interest in trading Tyrese Maxey despite the availability of one of the top players in the game.

Philadelphia’s front office has shown by these actions that it believes in the continued development of Maxey and has high hopes for his future in the league, and it’s understandable when you look at not only his progression so far in his young career but his projection moving forward and the context surrounding his future.

Tyrese Maxey’s impressive progression

After averaging 8.0 points per game as a rookie, that number more than doubled in his sophomore season to 17.5 as Maxey took on a starting role. In his third season. He once again increased his scoring average, this time to 20.3 points per game, despite former head coach Doc Rivers questionably playing him off the bench for 19 games.

What’s even more impressive about his third-season development Is that he did so alongside two of the most ball-dominant players in the league, James Harden and Joel Embiid.

Tyrese Maxey
Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey (0) gestures after making a 3-point shot during the second half of Game 4 in an NBA basketball first-round playoff series against the Brooklyn Nets, Saturday, April 22, 2023, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

The most stunning aspect of Maxey’s growth, however, continues to be his improvement as a shooter, his notable weakness entering the draft. The amount of work that he has put into improving and borderline perfecting his shot has resulted in Maxey becoming one of the premier perimeter threats in the league.

He’s seen his average jump from 30.1% on 1.7 attempts to 42.7% on 4.1 attempts, to most recently, 43.4% on a strong 6.2 attempts per game. In each season, Tyrese Maxey has improved in both quality and quantity.

How brightly can Tyrese Maxey’s star burn?

While nothing is guaranteed in this league, what has Tyrese Maxey shown to say that he’s reached his ceiling? He’s undersized, sure, but other guards of a similar feather have managed to find success when their shot is as electrifying as Maxey’s.

Tyrese Maxey
Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey (0) celebrates after making a 3-point shot against the Brooklyn Nets during the second half of Game 3 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Thursday, April 20, 2023, in New York. The 76ers won 102-97. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Damian Lillard, for instance, is of similar height and weight as Maxey, although Lillard admittedly has a bit wider wingspan. Will Tyrese Maxey ever reach those heights? That would be an unfair comparison to place on his shoulders, even reckless to suggest. However, it is also unfair to limit him while he continues to prove his naysayers wrong.

Many will say the Sixers are foolish for feeling this way, and there is admittedly a sizable amount of risk associated with this decision, but it’s important to recognize the payoff. His immense growth, combined with his seemingly endless work ethic, not to mention the potential financial benefit of committing to Maxey over a “super-max” star, suggests that betting on Maxey may be worthwhile in the long run for Philadelphia.