It has been a chaotic overall start to the season for the Philadelphia 76ers. One of the biggest bright spots has been the strong play of Tyrese Maxey. The third-year guard has continued to add layers to his game and is in the process of fully establishing himself as one of the NBA’s brightest young stars. Through the opening 10 games of the season, Maxey is averaging 24.9 points, 3.8 assists, and 3.4 rebounds per game. He also is shooting 44.0% on three-point attempts while launching 7.5 long-range attempts per game. This is nearly double the rate of last year when he attempted 4.1 three-pointers per game.
His strong stretch of play has caught the attention of people beyond the Sixers organization. Following the matchup with the Knicks last night, New York’s point guard Jalen Brunson had some glowing praise for Maxey. As the former Villanova standout stated, “He’s the real deal. He’s only gotten better and better every year. He’s a special player and I don’t see him slowing down any time soon,” per Ky Carlin of SixersWire. Brunson is familiar with Philadelphia from the three seasons he spent with Villanova and the two national championships he won.
Maxey’s Play Against Knicks
With Joel Embiid and James Harden out with injuries, it was Maxey who took it upon himself to lead the Sixers offensively. He ended the matchup with 31 points, seven assists, and three rebounds. It was not his most efficient performance as he shot just 10-29 from the field and 4-13 on three-point attempts. Maxey also turned the ball over four times.
This did not stop Brunson from being impressed by Maxey’s play. The Knicks guard ended with 23 points, seven assists, and six rebounds of his own in the matchup. The native of New Brunswick, New Jersey was the prized addition of the Knicks’ offseason as the franchise handed him a four-year deal worth $104 million.
Maxey’s Outlook Moving Forward
While it may not have been exactly the outcome or performance he was hoping for, Maxey’s play was still a massive step forward in his career trajectory. The 22-year-old showed the ability and willingness to serve as the team’s primary offensive weapon. There was a stretch during the third quarter where Maxey led the Sixers on a 10-0 run all by himself which included him knocking down a pair of three-pointers.
The Sixers will not reach their peak as a team until Harden and Embiid make their return to the lineup. However, Maxey has an excellent chance to prove what he can do and take a stride forward as a lead option in their absence. The month without Harden will be an opportunity to get a better look at Maxey’s long-term fit in the NBA. The addition of the former MVP has taken point guard responsibilities off of Maxey and allowed him to flourish as a scorer. Due to the lack of playmakers and ball-handlers on the Sixers roster, Maxey will be forced back into this role. The Sixers will get a chance to see if he could be capable of running an offense and creating for others in the long term or if he is best utilized as a scorer (which is also okay!).
Few players have seen their rise occur as rapidly as Maxey. In just three years he has gone from a spark off the bench in limited minutes to the team’s potential number-one scoring option. He has answered every challenge thrown his way thus far and his play will be essential to the Sixers’ success in the short and long term.