Adding and subtracting players in free agency and via trade is fun, but not much else compares to nailing the draft and seeing a homegrown player succeed. And the Philadelphia 76ers have a few of those on the roster, including Joel Embiid, Matisse Thybulle, and Tyrese Maxey.
Maxey, to his credit, is enjoying a bit of a Philadelphia victory lap this summer after his rapid rise from bench sparkplug to bona fide Sixers starter last season. And yet, Maxey not even be bumping against his ceiling just yet, according to Michael Kaskey-Blomain of CBS. In a recent article, Kaskey-Blomain named Maxey one of five players likely to make their first All-Star appearance next season.
“Maxey has an unrelenting work ethic, and if he continues to develop there will likely be several All-Star selections in his future,” Kaskey-Blomain wrote.
It’s an exciting projection for the Sixers, who could very well send three All-Stars to the midseason festivities next year if things go to Kaskey-Blomain’s plan. Barring any monumental setback, Embiid should be a lock for yet another All-Star nod, as should James Harden.
Kaskey-Blomain also listed Minnesota’s Anthony Edwards, New York’s Jalen Brunson, Utah’s Collin Sexton, and Indiana’s Tyrese Haliburton as four others likely to earn their first All-Star nod next season.
Adding Maxey to the mix would be an excellent sign that the Sixers are well on their way to a title run. Last season, the Golden State Warriors sent three All-Stars, only to lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy a few months later.
Maxey Became a ‘Revelation’ Last Season
Stardom wasn’t always destined for Maxey. He was a former blue-chip high schooler who played college ball under John Calipari at Kentucky. But inconsistent play mixed with a down year for the Wildcats saw Maxey slide to No. 21, where he was scooped up by the Sixers.
In many ways, his progress was stifled as a backup behind Ben Simmons. But there’s little coincidence that the very summer Simmons demanded out of town, Maxey took off.
“Tyrese Maxey was a bit of a revelation for the Sixers last season,” Kaskey-Blomain wrote. “After receiving inconsistent playing time during his rookie year, Maxey took over the starting point guard spot in Ben Simmons’ absence last season, and he never looked back — even after James Harden was added to the roster. His numbers swelled with his increased role, and he quickly established himself as an integral part of Philadelphia’s offensive attack. His importance to the Sixers was exemplified during postseason play.”
Some players shy away from an increased role and responsibility. Not Maxey — he took the reins and made sure that he left no doubt in the minds of the Sixers’ decision-makers.
Can Maxey Take Another Leap?
Expecting Maxey to embark on a similar leap from year one to year two next season might be a bit wishful thinking. After all, Maxey doubled his production (and then some) last season with the Sixers.
“From his first to his second season,” Kaskey-Blomain explained, “Maxey’s scoring jumped from eight to 17.5 points per game, and his assists doubled from two to 4.3. Most impressively, his 3-point shooting skyrocketed from 30 percent as a rookie to 42 percent last season. This improvement helped to solidify him as an excellent complement to All-Star center Joel Embiid, and his ability to play both on and off of the ball should greatly help his fit alongside Harden in Philadelphia’s backcourt moving forward.”
Maxey’s admission to the All-Star game will be predicated on a few factors. First, he needs to continue shooting the ball consistently from three and prove last season’s 42.7% from deep wasn’t an aberration.
Second, Maxey should continue ticking up those assist numbers as he becomes the team’s clear number two playmaker behind Harden. As long as Harden is logging 10-plus assists per night, Maxey should excel in his smaller role.
Finally, Maxey could work to improve his defense just a bit. His defensive rating ballooned from 111 to 115 last season, which is to be expected given his duties as an offensive dynamo. But bringing that figure down heading into his junior season should be on his to-do list.