If there is one knock on Tyrese Maxey it has been his shortcomings on the defensive end. The 6-foot-2 guard is at his best when he maximizes his insane speed and gets into the backcourt. No one can keep up with him, especially if he crosses half-court and applies pressure. He has 49 total steals over his first three seasons, including 49 in only 60 games last season.
However, it’s his overall defense that gets Maxey out of bed early in the morning.
He likes to get to the practice facility at 6 a.m. on most days to work on all aspects of his game, including defense which has become an admitted priority. Maxey has been picking the brains of two teammates in particular to help him improve: De’Anthony Melton and Patrick Beverley. Both guys carry hard-earned reputations as defensive stoppers around the league.
“You just watch a lot of film, get stronger, gain more confidence. I think my thing, at the end of last year, I really got confident in what I can do and how I can be impactful on the defensive end. I was able to crawl up under guys and frustrate them and get steals and cause havoc, do different things like that. I think my next biggest step is off the ball, like trying to find ways to be in gaps. I think Coach Nurse has a really good system, strategy, that will help me — not just me but everybody on the team with that. And, hey, one day we’ll have a presser where I don’t get asked about my defense.”
The other major thing Maxey worked on this offseason was his pick-and-roll game. He got in the lab with popular NBA skills coach Drew Hanlen ‚— trainer to Joel Embiid and Jayson Tatum, among others — while running 3-on-3 and 4-on-4 pickup games with his buddies. The goal was to learn how to better read attack defenders, so he could transition better from a pocket pass to a skip pass. Maxey said it was important to work on situational basketball.
“Live reads. You can’t beat reps,” Maxey said. “I keep saying it and it probably sounds cliche to y’all know but me getting 1 percent better every single year has done well for me. It’s done well for our organization and I’m going to keep trying to do that.”