Tyrese Maxey Quickly Growing Into Key Player for 76ers

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Photo Credit: Philadelphia 76ers Twitter (@sixers)

By Matt Gregan, Sports Talk Philly Staff Writer

Tyrese Maxey, through 12 games this season, has shown an extreme amount of poise and focus for such a young player. At 21 years old, the Philadelphia 76ers are asking him to adjust to a new role while also balancing the other aspects of the game. He has taken all of it in stride, quickly proving to be one of the team's key players this season.

Maxey showcased his scoring ability in Tuesday's loss to the Bucks, dropping a season-high 31 points. He scored from all over the floor, whether it was his patented floater or his improved three-point shooting. He put the work in during the offseason to improve his outside shooting, and thus far it is showing. He has increased his percentage from deep from 30.1 percent as a rookie to 38.5 percent so far this season. Not only has he increased his three-point percentage, but he also is taking 3.3 attempts per game, nearly double what it was his rookie season.

The improvement Maxey has shown in his outside shooting this season is just the cherry on top of the cake in terms of his overall scoring ability. He already showed, and continues to this season, that he excels at scoring in the paint. He possesses an excellent ability to finish at and around the rim using his floater, which has led to him shooting an incredible 66.7 percent from inside the restricted area this season.

The 21-year-old on Tuesday took command of the offense on a night where the Sixers were shorthanded and kept them in a close game against the defending champion Bucks. After the game, Maxey was asked what he thought he improved on the most since the beginning of the season.

"I think confidence, leadership, voice, being more vocal," Maxey said. "At the beginning of the year, I would say timid, to speak my mind or try to lead with my voice. I think now I’ve become a little more comfortable with it and just trying to do my part and help us win."

One of the things I was worried about the most heading into the season was Maxey's ability to learn how to run an offense. It is a lot to ask of a second-year player to completely change his role on the court. I even doubted and threw water on his ability to play point for the 76ers, a team with championship aspirations, after the first four games of the season. However, and I am extremely pleased to be writing this, Maxey has proven me wrong.

Maxey stepped up to fill the void left by Ben Simmons' absence due to personal reasons. He is averaging 15.8 points, 3.8 rebounds and 4.7 assists per game. Most importantly, he is turning the ball over only 1.4 times per game. He is in the midst of a terrific stretch of games. With the Sixers playing shorthanded, he played 40.8 minutes per game over the last five games. During that stretch, Maxey turned the ball over only twice while dishing out 5.6 assists per game.

Maxey's offensive abilities generate a ton of excitement about his future potential, but something that has gone under the radar is his defense. While it does not particularly show up in the box score (0.6 blocks and 0.8 steals per game), he has shown flashes of great defensive play this season. During a game against the Hawks earlier this season, All-Star Trae Young shot just 3-of-9 from the field when guarded by Maxey.

"He’s held up," Sixers head coach Doc Rivers said of Maxey's defense on high-level playmakers after the win over the Trail Blazers back on Nov. 1. "It’s tough. Every night at that position, you’ve got to guard somebody. And we’re not shying away from it. We’re just putting him on guys and overall, I think he’s doing a sensational job. He’s up pressuring the ball. He gets over picks so much better than he did last year. He hears the coverages better as well. I think he’s doing fine."

Through 12 games this season, Maxey has already shown a ton of improvement across the board. With the high-intensity work ethic Maxey has, the sky is truly the limit.

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