The Philadelphia 76ers are going to need to lock the doors and change the locks if they want to keep Tyrese Maxey out of the gym. The rookie guard promised he would be in there getting shots up as soon as the season ended.
True to his word, Maxey returned to the Sixers practice facility on Friday despite the trainers trying to keep him out. His stated goal this offseason is to get “one-percent better” every single day.
“It has been a long season and like I said on the off days I’m always in here [the gym],” Maxey told reporters on June 21. “Every day it was basketball from November or early December to now June. This is my first NBA offseason, one thing I will say that will be going on this offseason is that I will get one-percent better every single day and I’m going to make that promise to myself.”
Maxey actually snuck into the gym on June 21, the day after Philly lost Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. Sixers players weren’t supposed to be back at work as the coaching staff wanted them to relax and decompress after a grueling season. Not Maxey. He kept pushing the issue with Spencer Rivers, the head coach’s son and Sixers director of player development. He wanted to return on Friday and did.
“I said Friday, he [Spencer Rivers] said no so we’ll see,” Maxey said. “We’ll see how that argument goes but I’m hoping Friday to get back in the gym and get some work.”
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Maxey Reflects on Wild Rookie Campaign
Maxey’s first year in the league was a wild one, highlighted by a hastened 72-game schedule that left very few off days. The Kentucky product had to grow up in a hurry and learn how to be a professional basketball player on the fly.
“I learned so much this year, like every single day. Every single day was something new,” Maxey said. “The University of Kentucky really prepared us for the next level.”
The 20-year-old averaged 8.0 points and 2.0 assists in 15.3 minutes per game in the regular season. Head coach Doc Rivers leaned on Maxey in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals when he was the second guy off the bench. He scored 16 points in 29 minutes while providing an undeniable spark. The rookie was an important part of the Sixers’ bench rotation throughout the playoffs.
“You gotta play free, don’t think about what’s at stake,” Maxey said. “I mean you have to think about what’s at stake but you go gotta go out there and play your game, play free and together.”
Sharing Advice for Philly’s Incoming Rookies
A clip of Maxey balling out in the ninth grade went viral earlier this week. It shows the teenager crossing people over, dunking with authority, and stepping back to drill three-point daggers. The kid always had game.
As the budding star gets ready to enter his second NBA season – “that is just crazy to think about,” said Maxey – he was asked to share some advice for the incoming class of rookies. Maxey might be in for a much larger role, depending on what happens to All-Star point guard Ben Simmons. Crazy indeed.
“My advice would be to keep your head low and listen. Listen and soak up everything like a sponge,” Maxey said. “I will continue to do that next year but as a rookie coming into this league it’s extremely different than college, high school, any other basketball that you’ve ever experienced.
“So just be a sponge, be early. Early is on time, on time is late. Just keep that same mindset for every single day, every off day, be in the gym, keep your head low and grind. And try and give the coach a reason to get on the floor, do whatever it takes to help the team.”