Records tumbled on Saturday as Tyrese Maxey led the Sixers’ offense in the absence of Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Shake Milton and Joel Embiid. The circumstances were horrible, yet the Sixers’ rookie lit up the court against a Denver Nuggets team which was at pretty much full strength.
Maxey scored 39 points with six dimes. He’s the youngest Sixer in NBA history to score 30 or more in a game. It was the most points in a rookie’s first start since 1970. Dwyane Wade took to Instagram to praise the performance, and Twitter was awash with support for the electric first-year guard.
Of course, this was a career night for Maxey. Saturday’s gem was his highest score since high school, and came a matter of hours after he set an NBA best of 16 points in the loss to the Nets. It was an opportunity he did not expect, and one that came in a horrible situation. It was one he grasped with both hands.
As Doc Rivers noted after the game, scoring 39 points in an NBA game is significant regardless of the minutes played, shots taken or woeful Denver defense. Maxey has already shown he can be a sparkplug off the bench for Philly – that’s invaluable to a team which has been perilously short on depth in recent seasons.
Maxey’s all-round game
Concerns about his shot were commonplace ahead of the draft. The early signs are good for the Sixers, though it remains to be seen how real his 36.4% from beyond the arc is. Maxey’s ability to penetrate the defense and score over bigger defenders is definitely real. He’s got a lovely floater game. The natural quickness allows him to blow by sluggish opponents, and his handle is tidy.
The 3.9 assists to 1.4 turnovers per 36 minutes is a great sign for a rookie guard. His decisions in possession are remarkably mature for a player 10 games into his NBA career after a truncated collegiate tenure. Daryl Morey and the Sixers couldn’t have hoped for much more from Maxey.
LaMelo Ball and James Wiseman look great. Anthony Edwards has shown flashes. Winning Rookie of the Year might be out of reach, but Maxey is certainly in the mix. He’s ready to contribute immediately to a contending team – this is looking like a masterful pick from the Sixers. Not many players selected 21st overall are this good this soon.