Former Kentucky standout Tyrese Maxey wasn’t known for his long-range shooting coming into the NBA. As the 19-year-old prospect shot just 29-percent from three during his lone season with the Wildcats, Maxey wasn’t expected to go into the NBA and make an impact from beyond the arc.
During his first season with the Philadelphia 76ers, Maxey was in and out of the rotation and primarily a bench option. In 61 games, Maxey shot on-par with his college days as he knocked down just 30-percent of his threes on 1.7 attempts per game.
While his shooting from three was definitely a concern coming into the league, Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey made it clear after selecting Maxey with the 21st overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft that the team wasn’t worried about his struggles in that department .
Fast forward to Maxey’s Sophomore effort, and the patience and confidence in the second-year guard is paying off for the 76ers. As a full-time starter with the 76ers this season, Maxey has started in all but one of the 54 games he appeared in during the 2021-2022 NBA season.
Going into the All-Star break, Maxey boosted his three-point percentage to 39 on 3.6 attempts per game. It’s apparent that Maxey’s long-range shot has become much more reliable during his sophomore effort, but he’s been even more productive from beyond the arc after getting a week-long break.
In the first three games back from the break, Maxey hit on 64-percent of his threes through 14 attempts. When the 76ers faced the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night, the young guard helped boost that average even more as he nailed five out of six three-pointers in the 125-119 win over Cleveland.
What’s the Difference Maker?
Following his game-high 33-point outing against the Cavs, Maxey explained that a little bit of rest had gone a long way for his persistent shooting from beyond the arc.
“As soon as I was done with the Rising Stars Game, I just didn’t touch a ball for that entire period of time,” Maxey explained. “I think KJ, our trainer, was on me, and he told me that that’s going to be a big rest period for me. I just feel way, way better and I felt rejuvenated when I came back to Minnesota after I missed my flight because somehow Dallas, global warming, ice, and I don’t know what’s going on, “he joked.
“But yeah, so I’m just trying to work on it every single day,” Maxey continued. “I know a lot more opportunities will come, especially playing with James, Joel, and Tobias because they draw so much attention, and I feel like to be able to stay on the court, you have to help them as much as possible, and I have to make catch-shoot threes. “
Through his first season and a half with the Sixers, Maxey has established himself as a workhorse as he’s constantly looking to improve his game daily. Oftentimes, the young guard has to be forced to take breaks as he tends to push limits with his development by him. While it was difficult for Maxey to take time off following the Rising Stars Game, he’s feeling the positive aftereffects from the rest.
“That was hard because half of it I needed to rest, and half of it was because I couldn’t leave the house because of the ice,” Maxey said in regards to resting up. “But yeah, I think it was good for me really because KJ has been on me all year long about resting because rest is important with playing heavy minutes and different things like that over the long haul of an 82-game season.”
Maxey and the Sixers have 20 games left in the regular season. Then they’ll make a postseason run. As there’s a lot of time left to go for the second-year guard, his recent break di lui could go a long way and pay dividends down the stretch when the games tend to matter the most.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him for live updates on Twitter: @JGrasso_.