Tyrese Maxey named finalist for NBA’s Most Improved Player award

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey (0) reacts past Sacramento Kings’ Sasha Vezenkov (7) after making a shot during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Friday, Jan. 12, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Tyrese Maxey will proudly represent the Philadelphia 76ers during the NBA’s award season as it was announced Sunday evening that he is a finalist for the League’s Most Improved Player (MIP) award.

This comes after a season to remember for Maxey, who enjoyed his first All-Star Game appearance in addition to several unforgettable games throughout the year, highlighted by his unforgettable career-high performance against the San Antonio Spurs in a double-overtime thriller. Many had expected a leap of sorts after the Sixers traded away James Harden, but Maxey may have surpassed the expectations of nearly everyone, except his skills coach that is.

Drew Hanlen, who also coaches Joel Embiid, stated before the start of the season that he would be disappointed if Maxey averaged less than 25 points per game. That’s quite the ask, considering just 15 players managed to accomplish that feat last season and only 10 the year before.

Hanlen obviously had the inside track on this prediction, but Maxey proved himself by averaging 25.9 points over his 70 games. Along with his high scoring came 3.7 rebounds, 6.2 assists, and just 1.7 turnovers per game.

Maxey was the only player in the NBA to average more than 25 points and six assists while averaging less than two turnovers per game.

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Philadelphia 76ers’ Tyrese Maxey, top, goes up for the shot with Miami Heat’s Jimmy Butler defending during the first half of an NBA basketball play-in tournament game Wednesday, April 17, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Chris Szagola)

Alongside Maxey, Houston Rockets center Alperen Şengün and Chicago Bulls guard Coby White are among the finalists for the award. Şengün made serious strides this season as a scorer and firmly established himself as one of the league’s new point centers. He joined Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Domantas Sabonis as the only centers to average five or more assists a game.

As impressive as Sengun’s season was, Coby White is the true challenger to Maxey for the MIP award. This season, White saw his averages leap from 9.7 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 2.9 assists to 19.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 4.5 assists as he spent most of the year as Chicago’s second option.

Chicago Bulls’ Coby White, right, goes up for a shot against Philadelphia 76ers’ Paul Reed during the first half of an NBA basketball game, Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Maxey and White saw a jump in role lead to a production spike, but Maxey’s evolution into a top 11 scorer and an NBA All-Star may prove enough to secure him the hardware. The NBA will reveal the winner of each award beginning April 23 during their coverage of the NBA Playoffs.