Editor’s note: Wynn is filling in this week for Alex Weber, who recently rescued some children from a burning orphanage. They’re okay, just a little shook up, so he stuck around to comfort them with a little weekend ski trip at the KSResort. He’ll be back next week.
There are few things harder as a young basketball player than staying ready at all times, especially when you don’t know when or where your minutes are going to come. As an experienced bench-rider on my own high school team back in the day (shoutout the Berea Pirates), I understand this in a way. But in a much more accurate way, Tyrese Maxey has come to understand it in his rookie year with the Philadelphia 76ers.
Since he slid all the way to 21st on draft day, Maxey has had no shortage of motivation in Philly. He was embraced by the Sixers faithful for his hard work, infectious smile and winning attitude long before he got the chance to make an impact on the game, and when he did, he crushed that too. Even before his historic 39-point game in January when the team’s roster was decimated my COVID, the fans could see his value:
Maxey’s speed is a real shock to the system. Completely unlike anything the Sixers have had in a while.
— The Sixer Sense (@SixerSense) December 27, 2020
Tyrese Maxey is incredible. What a steal at #21.
Mike Muscala, we can’t thank you enough.
— Did The Sixers WWWWWWWWin? (@DidTheSixersWin) January 5, 2021
Again, I can’t believe the Sixers managed to get Tyrese Maxey at 21. What a pick. https://t.co/ATr1qGHYAZ
— Tom West (@TomWestNBA) December 24, 2020
He’s spent much of the season since sitting on the bench as the fifth guard in Doc Rivers’ rotation. From the start of February to the end of March, he played more than 15 minutes in a game just four times, and he’s earned the unenviable “DNP – Coach’s decision” 11 times this season. Still, the Sixers valued him enough that they were hesitant to include him in potential trades for James Harden at the trade deadline, and offered him to the Raptors for Kyle Lowry only as the centerpiece of a potential deal.
In what minutes he has gotten, the rookie has delivered. Per 48 minutes this season, Maxey ranks fourth among all rookies in scoring (24.6), trailing only the top three draft picks (Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman) and Immanuel Quickley. He also ranks sixth among the rooks in assists per-48 and seventh among rookie guards in rebounds. Not bad for pick 21.
Fast forward to today and Maxey is still turning heads. Saturday night, he earned his seventh start of the year in place of an injured Ben Simmons at point guard. Playing 35 minutes (his most since January 12), he scored 22 points on efficient 7-11 shooting (2-3 3pt), plus five rebounds, four assists, two steals and just one turnover as the primary ballhandler. The Sixers rolled to an easy 14-point win over the Pistons, their eighth straight W as they continue to hold tight to the no. 1 seed in the east.
Mad Max: The Maxeymum Force of the Future
— Philadelphia 76ers (@sixers) May 9, 2021
This came after another strong performance on Thursday, when he delivered 12 points and dished out seven assists (his career-high is eight). In his last six games, he’s shot the ball at a 60% clip from the field and an impressive 6-11 (55%) from downtown. If he can keep this up, he’s going to make it difficult for his coach to keep him on the pine come playoff time.
So there you have it: your BBNBA Player of the Week, Tyrese Maxey. He may be waiting his turn for now, but it won’t be much longer for this young star in the making. And when it does arrive, you can bet he’ll be ready.
Enjoy the highlights from Saturday’s game below, complete with a couple of smooth Quickley-esque floaters. I wonder if those guys know each other?