The Next Step: Tyrese Maxey
The 2020-2021 NBA season had to be chaos for the rookies. It took a better part of the season for the Sixers to see what they truly had in their 21st overall pick. COVID-19 brought empty arenas and Doc Rivers’ unwillingness to break from his “rotations” left a lot to be desired from Tyrese Maxey. Once we saw him on the court, he quickly became a fan favorite. Maxey provided the Sixers an entire library of highlights, ranging from a career high 39 point game vs the Denver Nuggets, to headlines reading “Maxey Saves the Season” after big performances in Game 5 against the Wizards and then again in Game 6 against the Atlanta Hawks.
Yes, we all know the Sixers season ended in severe disappointment, but the energetic and fearless play of 20 year old Tyrese Maxey had fans throughout Philadelphia yearning for more. Taking all things into account, let’s take a look at the best and worse case scenarios for Maxey heading into next season.
Maxey receives the keys and is our new starting PG:
Is there a world where Ben Simmons suddenly develops the desire to shoot the basketball, while he and Maxey coexist as the Sixers backcourt for years to come? This unfortunately is the least likely of scenarios, but only because that Maxey wouldn’t be quite ready to be handed the keys to the Sixers’ offense.
Daryl Morey was quoted in a post-season presser saying “Obviously, Maxey wasn’t every day in the rotation last year, but we feel like he has a really good chance to step into that rotation next year. That’s super rare for anyone picked in the 20s.”
Key word in the Morey quote is “rotation.” Taking the leap to full time starter just feels to be far to great of a leap for Maxey to take from year one to year two. With a measly 30.1% three point field goal percentage (up to 33.3% in post-season), in 15 minutes per game, he would realistically need to move the needle closer to the NBA average (34.6%-35%) along with an uptick in minutes played, likely around the 30-34 minutes per game range.
Although the shot looks workable and he has a willingness to “let it fly” (a breath of fresh air for Sixers fans), it’ll likely take a full off-season program, summer league action and another NBA season/post-season slate for him to be a main stay as the starting point guard for this team.
Continued Upward Trajectory: Maxey is a Sixth Man of the Year Finalist
Although it is far too early for even Vegas oddsmakers to have these out, I am already claiming Tyrese Maxey as 2021-2022 Sixth Man of the Year the “Liberty Line Lock of the Year.” Im sure everyone at TLL will love the fact that in my first article, I’m throwing out hot takes already. This is what they signed up for and I stand by that take.
Maxey was quoted at his exit interview saying “One thing that I will say that all will be going on during this offseason is I will get one percent better every single day, I’ll make that promise to myself.” For a guy who won’t turn 21 until November 4th, and the drive/mentality of a true “gym rat” it would be a shock if we do not see an even better Maxey next season.
With the futures of Furkan Korkmaz, Danny Green and George Hill up in the air, any lost minutes from that bunch are sure to be gobbled by Maxey. This year’s award winner Jordan Clarkson (Utah Jazz) took home the hardware averaging 26.7 MPG and putting up 18.4 PPG shooting 52.3% from the field and 34.7% from three, which is where I fully expect Maxey to be at season’s end. Maxey’s per 36 numbers were 18.8 PPG with shooting numbers of 46.2% from the field and 30.1% from three. We are looking at the most likely scenario here, which will be huge boost for team that struggled to find dependable bench production when they needed it most.
Maxey 22 points (7/11 FG, 2/3 3PT) 4 assists to 1 turnover, with 2 steals and a block vs Detroit
Minimal Improvement, Same Maxey
With this being a very unlikely scenario, assuming Daryl Morey and Co. make some moves this off-season to improve the roster, it still wouldn’t be the end of the world. The fact that we were counting so heavily on a 20 year old, 21st overall pick in playoff crunch time is a little unnerving in hindsight. However, Maxey is now one year ahead of schedule in terms of expected production on the floor. Another year under the tutelage of Doc Rivers and the veterans on the roster wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, however the fanbase would be a little uneasy if another promising draft pick has any type of hinderance….especially involving their shot.
Bye Bye Maxey, Dame Time
Just kidding…..kind of. Maxey has been the subject of many trade rumors and trade machines as part of a package with Ben Simmons to net a return up to and including Damian Lillard. We will have a whole other ball of wax to discuss if that is this team’s fate, other than that Maxey should not be thrown into a meaningless transaction as he possesses such potential. Until then, big things are on the horizon for the this young, already beloved rising sophomore.
In Daryl, We Trust.