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As trade rumors swirl this summer, don’t include Tyrese Maxey in them

Tyrese Maxey had his name thrown around in trade rumors for James Harden and Damian Lillard in the past. This offseason, the Sixers view him as a franchise cornerstone.

2022 NBA Playoffs - Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

Most people felt like the Sixers got a steal during the 2020 NBA draft when they selected Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey at No. 21. Not sure anyone expected it to be considered grand larceny.

But here we are after Maxey’s second NBA season and the 21-year-old looks every bit like a budding star.

Maxey’s name came up in the past as Daryl Morey and company were hunting stars like James Harden and Damian Lillard. As rumors surface that Morey could again be on the lookout for another star this summer, you can go ahead and skip Maxey’s name in your trade machine of choice.

The Sixers view Maxey as a franchise cornerstone and untouchable, a source tells Liberty Ballers. The team was happy with the pick of Maxey at the time, but his growth in just his second season and maniacal work ethic have the team looking at him as a foundational piece.

Now, “untouchable” is never untouchable. If the Bucks called the Sixers tomorrow saying they’d had their fun with Giannis Antetokounmpo and had their eyes on Maxey, you’d expect Morey to pull the trigger. But barring a scenario where the Sixers could acquire one of the best players on the planet, No. 0 isn’t going anywhere.

While there is still room to grow for Maxey — our Jackson Frank did an excellent job laying out the road to stardom for the young guard — the improvement from year one to year two is staggering.

It’s not often a player who sees his minutes and shot attempts basically double also become more efficient, but that was the case for Maxey. His minutes (15.3 to 35.3) went up, but so did his field goal (46.2 to 48.5), three-point (30.1 to 42.7) and true shooting (53.1 to 59.4) percentages. He also saw growth as a playmaker while filling in for Ben Simmons for most of the season and continued to take care of the basketball.

There were concerns about Maxey’s role after the team made the blockbuster deal to acquire Harden. Those concerns were quelled quickly as Maxey thrived alongside The Beard, averaging 18.7 points on 65.6 true shooting in the 24 games after Harden made his Sixers debut.

While Maxey struggled with consistency during the postseason, there were more than a few brilliant flashes. He became the youngest Sixer to ever score 30 in a playoff game. The only two players in NBA history to reach 38 points (Game 1 against the Raptors) or more in a postseason game younger than Maxey are Magic Johnson and LeBron James. Despite the inconsistencies, Maxey still averaged 20.8 points a game on 61 percent true shooting in the playoffs.

It seems fair to say it’s a matter of “when” not “if” Maxey will make his first All-Star appearance. The Sixers apparently feel the same way, and don’t intend to let their draft heist from 2020 get away.