The Philadelphia 76ers landed a potentially franchise-altering star in Tyrese Maxey in the 2020 draft. Even more impressive, the Sixers unearthed Maxey late in the first round, a diamond in the rough finding after whiffing on so many lottery picks.
But Maxey’s meteoric rise wasn’t always expected. In fact, this time last year, he was more of a bench-unit sparkplug, someone who could energize off the bench with an electric display of offensive.
But after Ben Simmons left a 6’11-sized hole in the roster, the former Kentucky Wildcat gladly stepped up. And Maxey’s become so critical to the team and beloved by fans, that it became a legitimate debate whether he was worth surrendering when Kevin Durant expressed an interest in coming to Philadelphia.
And recently, Maxey was compared to another young talent whose name was also thrown around in trade rumors this summer: Knicks guard Immanuel Quickly. Jordanna Clark of Daily Knicks explained why the two former Kentucky teammates resemble one another.
“Quickley, who’s entering his third season in the NBA, has often been compared to Tyrese Maxey, his teammate at Kentucky,” wrote Clark. “Maxey was the No. 21 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft and Quickley was the No. 25 pick. The similarities don’t end there, as both players went to teams in the Atlantic Division.
“What’s the main difference between the two players? The amount of time that they spent on the court. Maxey averaged 35.3 minutes per game and Quickley averaged 23.1. A fair argument would be that if Quickley were in Philadelphia, he’d be putting up numbers similar to Maxey’s.”
It’s absolutely true that Maxey earned more time than Quickly last season. But a closer look under the hood reveals a few flaws in that comparison.
Tyrese Maxey is a More Efficient Player than Immanuel Quickly
If the biggest difference between Maxey and Quickly is playing time, let’s go down to each player’s per 36 numbers. Per 36 is a stat that captures a player’s performance in any given 36 minutes of action.
Comparing the two players on a per 36-minute basis, it’s clear that Maxey has the upper hand in terms of efficiency. Maxey connected on 39.5% of threes versus Quickley’s 36.5%. Further, Maxey netted 47.8% of his field goals last season, compared to Quickley’s 39.3%. Quickley’s per-36-point total might be slightly higher (19.1 versus Maxey’s 18.1), but it also came on over 21 shots versus Maxey’s 19.4.
Maxey has also shown that he can be a real asset in the playoffs, while Quickley has fallen flat. Maxey has an 18.3 playoff per-36 points average compared to Quickley’s 13.6. Further, Quickley’s playoff deficit comes despite putting up 1.5 more shots than Maxey per 36 playoff minutes.
Quickly did average a higher number of assists (4.4 versus 4.8) and rebounds (4.5 versus 3.5), but hey, what can you do when Joel Embiid is gobbling up boards and James Harden is dishing out 10-plus helps per night?
The truth is, the two players share many similarities. In fact, Quickley might be destined for a Maxey-esque jump next season. But the New York Knick needs to develop a more efficient game in order to justify more minutes in Tom Thibodeau’s system. At this point, it’s a little more than just time that’s separating Maxey and Quickley.
Maxey Destined to Make His First All-Star Game Next Season
Here’s one more difference between the two guards: Maxey was pegged to make his first All-Star game recently, while Quickley was not. It’s a sign that Quickley is still at least a year away from Maxey’s production level.
And what about Maxey’s rising stardom? “Maxey has an unrelenting work ethic, and if he continues to develop there will likely be several All-Star selections in his future,” wrote Michael Kaskey-Blomain for CBS Sports on September 3.
Is it feasible for the Sixers to have three All-Stars next season? It would require Embiid staying in form and James Harden proving his doubters wrong by putting in a vintage performance. But if the Sixers do send three to the midseason festival, they would be joining an elite company. Last season, the Golden State Warriors sported three All-Stars. A few months later, they were hoisting the Larry O’Brien Trophy.