Sixers: The legend of Tyrese Maxey’s insane work ethic grows

Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

Tyrese Maxey made the leap to stardom last season, emerging as one of the NBA’s most potent No. 3 options down the stretch. He’s a special athlete, with an unstoppable first step and the ability to change gears like a sports car once he’s on the move. Very few defenders can adequately defend Maxey once he’s driving downhill. Oh, and he’s an elite 3-point shooter, hitting 42.7 percent of his long-range attempts last season.

Think back to Maxey’s rookie season, however, and you will remember him as a low-volume shooter on suboptimal efficiency. You will also remember him as a fun bench guard who never quite earned his stripes in the regular rotation.

That was only a year ago. The trajectory of Maxey’s growth has been practically vertical. At media day, Doc Rivers gave us great insight into just why that is.

Sixers coaches had to sit Tyrese Maxey down and keep him from working too hard

No player on the Sixers’ roster — heck, maybe no player in the NBA — has a work ethic as routinely cited and praised as Tyrese Maxey’s work ethic. He famously said his motto is to get “one percent better each day,” and if you chart the data, he may very well be accomplishing his goal.

This is not the first time we’ve heard Doc Rivers speak of needing to kick Maxey out of the gym. He went from a weak, unproven shooter to one of the NBA’s most prolific marksmen is the span of a summer. He went from a bench guard the Sixers couldn’t rely on, to the crown jewel of Daryl Morey’s tenure as team president — all in the span of a summer.

One can only imagine the kind of work Maxey put in this summer after Philadelphia’s deflating loss to Miami in the second round. For as special as Maxey’s sophomore season was, he’s far from perfect. There’s ample room to improve, and he clearly aims to close the gap between him and perfection.

Maxey’s 3-point shooting and elite slashing ability make him a perfect third option next to the Joel Embiid-James Harden tandem. That said, he could stand to become more advanced as a playmaker and creator for others. He also needs to get better on defense, where he’s naturally fighting an uphill battle because of his small frame. One has to expect Maxey has worked on both areas over the summer.

Also of note was Doc Rivers’ mention of Paul Reed and Matisse Thybulle, both of whom have been lauded for their behind-the-scenes work in recent months. Reed’s unshakable self-confidence is rooted in hard work, while Thybulle is perhaps the Sixer most in need of a transformative summer. It will be interesting to see how all three players perform in the 2022-23 season.

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