Ranking Sixers’ 25-and-under players based on potential

Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Tyrese Maxey, Sixers (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images) /

21 years old. Philadelphia 76ers. Tyrese Maxey. 1. player. 93.

Ranking 25-and-under Sixers — 1. Tyrese Maxey

You may not have known the path, but you knew the destination. There’s no other player in the running for No. 1 — it’s Tyrese Maxey all the way. The 21-year-old made the leap from spunky backup guard to high-level starter in his second season. Now entering year three, he should be on everyone’s All-Star radar.

Maxey kicked off the 2022 preseason with a bang, dropping 20 points in under 14 minutes. If that’s the tone-setter for the new year, it’s hard not to get lost in daydreams of Maxey’s future. His desire to improve “one percent every day” is well documented, and he appears to work harder than just about anyone in the league. It took him one summer to turn a primary weakness (3-point shooting) into a primary strength.

It’s hard to imagine a better situation for Maxey than Philadelphia, where he can profit bountifully from Harden’s playmaking acumen. Maxey is an elite spot-up shooter with the speed to roast defenders who close out too quickly. With so much defensive attention being placed on Embiid and Harden, Maxey is frequently attacking a second-rate defender who’s behind on his rotation. That generally benefits one of the fastest players in the NBA who is quickly becoming one of the most skilled guard finishers in the NBA.

The next step for Maxey is evolving as a playmaker. He doesn’t make a ton of advanced passing reads. He’s more of a play finisher than a play initiator right now. That’s fine when Harden is running the show and Embiid is gobbling up possessions, but Maxey won’t reach his ceiling until he can confidently run point and orchestrate the offense. There’s no one better to learn from than his backcourt partner. Except big things from him this season and beyond.

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