After spending time in the Shadow Of The Beard, Tyrese Maxey is starting to find his groove as the Philadelphia 76ers Point Guard.
ABOVE PHOTO: Tyrese Maxey (Photo: All-Pro Reels/Wikipedia)
By Chris Murray
For the Philadelphia Sunday Sun
While I know that it’s still early in the 82-game NBA season, there’s a lot to be excited about when it comes to the Philadelphia 76ers so far this season.
For starters, the Sixers currently have the best record in the NBA after winning their eighth in a row on Sunday against the Indiana Pacers at the Wells Fargo Center by a score of 137-126. While it was in no way a tribute to defensive basketball, it was the team’s first win in the NBA’s In-Season Tournament.
But perhaps the biggest reason for Sixers fans to be excited is the continued emergence of point guard Tyrese Maxey.
Not only has the former University of Kentucky star made fans feel even better about saying goodbye and good riddance to point guard James Harden, but at the rate Maxey is performing, NBA superstardom and a possible All-Star Game nod aren’t off the table.
In the win over the Pacers, Maxey poured in a career-high 50 points on 20-of-32 shooting and being practically undefendable.
Need a three-pointer? Maxey was 7-of-11 from behind the arc. Mid-range jumper? He had you covered?
Need to shut down a run from the high-flying Pacers and take back their brief third-quarter lead? Maxey was your man, using floaters in the lane and mid-range jumpers to stop the bleeding.
For Sixers Head Coach Nick Nurse, it was a tour-de-force.
“I think he just mixed in so much of what he does so well,” he said Sixers head coach Nick Nurse. “I thought he blasted to the basket with speed a bunch of times and then he did his step-back or separation for threes. It was a heavy dose of both. He’s really hard to guard.“
“It’s really hard when he’s that fast one and he’s so deadly a shooter the other direction,” Nurse continued. “Which one are we going to try to take away? He was aggressive tonight.”
Maxey also filled the stat box with five assists, seven rebounds and three blocked shots including a huge block of Indiana point guard Tyrese Halliburton’s attempted layup as he was flying to the basket.
“I used to block shots a lot in high school, but I kind of went away from it,” Maxey said during his postgame press conference. “I just go out and there and try to play extremely hard. That’s a tough play to make. It was a play I had to make.”
Suffice it to say, Maxey has been the consummate point guard. So far this season, Maxey is averaging close to 26 points and 7.5 assists per game. He’s also shooting 39% from three-point range. He has four of his five career double-doubles during the first nine games of this season.
“It’s been great so far,” he said. “I’m just trying to be aggressive whether that’s scoring passing, getting my teammates involved, whatever. As long as it contributes to winning, I’m happy. “
And no one has been more impressed with Maxey’s performance so far this season than the NBA’s reigning MVP Joel Embiid, who scored 37 points with 13 rebounds and seven assists in the win over Indiana.
“It was amazing to watch,” Embiid said. “I’ve had a bunch of 50s, but it’s fun to watch someone else do it, especially because when I do it, I usually have 20 free-throws. (Maxey’s) shot-making ability, step-backs, crossovers. He goes back to the work he put in this offseason with his trainer and it’s paying off. I’m so happy for him.”
Maxey is the ninth player in Sixers history to score 50 points in a game. He joins the ranks of players like Embiid, Wilt Chamberlain, Moses Malone, and Allen Iverson to score 50 or more points in a game.
Since coming into the NBA as the 21st pick in 2020 NBA Draft, Maxey has gotten progressively better as a shooter and ball-handler with each year he has been in the league despite hearing more than a few people questioning his ability to succeed at the NBA level.
“I think I was always a decent shooter in high school and stuff,” Maxey said. “Having people doubt me or whatever keeps me humble, keeps me able to go into the gym every single offseason and every single day and work on my game, work on my craft and try to be the best possible version of myself.”