‘So Far Ahead of Everybody Else’: Doc Rivers Praises Sixers Rookie

Tyrese Maxey

Getty Sixers head coach Doc Rivers has been impressed with rookie Tyrese Maxey's work ethic and development.

The Philadelphia 76ers had a “black day” on Sunday which means no players are supposed to report to work. But one rookie decided to skirt the rules and show up to the gym. It didn’t hurt that he snuck in the head coach’s son with him.

According to Doc Rivers, Tyrese Maxey was the only Sixers player to use his day off to get some extra work in. It’s kind of a no-no this time of year as Rivers would prefer his guys to rest up for the playoffs. The 20-year-old guard got a pass since he was under the watchful eye of Spencer Rivers who serves as the team’s Player Development Coach. His dad knew what was going on.

“I know that he worked out because unfortunately, he’s working out with my son, so I know that he did go in,” Rivers told reporters. “Which is fine. We don’t care if you do go in, but he was the only one. That’s just who he is. He works at it. He wants to be good and he’s showing that.”

Maxey, the first-round pick out of Kentucky, has been seeing increased minutes in recent days due to scheduling. The Sixers have been building big leads and blowing opponents out dating back to April 26. The rookie is averaging 9.3 points in 15.2 minutes per game during that stretch. He saw 35 minutes on Saturday night when Ben Simmons was ruled out with back tightness.

“Tyrese is a great kid, great player. The thing that I love about him is any time he gets an opportunity, he takes advantage of it,” Sixers veteran Tobias Harris said. “We saw that last game, with Ben not playing. He steps right in. He just has so much potential in what he’s able to do as a player on the floor — getting to the rim, I think that’s one of his greatest assets as a player right now, and that’s hard to teach a lot of young players.”

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Maxey Maturing Fast, Shooting More

The major knock on Maxey coming out of college was his outside shooting. The 6-foot-2, 200-pound point guard has an elusive handle, with the quickness to beat anyone to the cup — literally, in the blink of an eye. Maxey is shooting 29.5% from deep (28-of-95) this season while continuing to fire away. It’s something the veterans have been encouraging him to do because practice makes perfect.

“I think the knock on him coming out was his shooting, but he has a very perfect form, a perfect release,” Harris said. “So those are just things that he’ll continue to get better at. He puts in a lot of work and that’s a great thing to see.”

It’s been a whirlwind first year for the Texas native. He’s had to adjust on the fly to a shortened NBA schedule, forfeiting the luxury of normal growing pains due to frequent back-to-backs and grueling road trips. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Maxey to mature faster.

“It’s been crazy,” Maxey said. “Paying attention to a lot of details of our team and what we’re trying to do and what the other team is trying to do and trying to take them out of what they’re trying to do so. That’s the biggest thing for me right now.”

Sixers Injury Updates Versus Indiana

The Sixers only need one more victory to clinch the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference by virtue of the Milwaukee Bucks losing on Monday night. It won’t be a cupcake tonight since they are taking on an Indiana Pacers team desperately trying to punch a ticket into the play-in tournament.

Philadelphia opened as six-point favorites on the road, with Joel Embiid listed as questionable with a non-COVID illness. Meanwhile, Sixers guards Furkan Korkmaz (ankle) and Matisse Thybulle (hand) are officially out.

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