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Sixers Film Fix: Tyrese Maxey’s rapid development as a scorer

Looking back through the film of Tyrese Maxey’s second-year scoring leap.

Miami Heat v Philadelphia 76ers - Game Four Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

We’ve reached the dullest part of the NBA offseason. The Sixers have made their main free agency signings and James Harden’s new contract is finalized at long last. As you might well be missing watching the NBA by now, it seems like a good time to bring back the Sixers Film Fix series. Each episode will feature a few videos highlighting specific topics.

Tyrese Maxey couldn’t have put together a much better 2021-22 season. He moved into a starting role right away and quickly reassured the Sixers and their fans that he was fully ready for it (not that there was ever any doubt to begin with).

After already improving over the course of his rookie year, Maxey made a huge leap last season. He honed all areas of his game, managed his larger role with ease, and then operated perfectly in the Sixers’ new offense as a complementary attacker alongside Joel Embiid and James Harden.

To look back at the film and highlight some of Maxey’s best moments and key improvements, why not devote this full episode of Sixers Film Fix to Maxey’s development?

The main skill that Maxey polished most last season was his three-point shooting. After being hesitant to fire threes at times as a rookie and only making 30.1 of his attempts from deep, he ranked third in the entire NBA in three-point percentage at 42.7 as a sophomore, attempting 4.1 per game.

His volume increased yet again once he started playing with Harden, too. As Maxey was tasked with spending more time off the ball, he responded perfectly by attacking as decisively as ever and firing more threes off the catch. In 24 games to end the regular season with Harden on the team, Maxey attempted 5.3 threes per game (making 48 percent) — up from 3.6 attempts in the 51 games before.

More than just his overall accuracy, though, it’s Maxey’s work off the dribble that stood out. He not only attempted 1.9 pull-up threes per game last year (a massive increase from the 0.6 attempts her averaged as a rookie), but made a highly efficient 40.3 percent of them.

Maxey’s efficiency is extremely impressive from a historical, statistical standpoint, too. Krishna Narsu shared some of BBall-Index’s stats, which rank Maxey’s finishing and pull-up shooting ahead of nearly all sophomore players since the 2013-14 season.

The only other player/dot he’s just shy of in the top right corner of the graph is Luka Doncic. So, yeah... it would be hard for sophomore Maxey to be in better company.

While Maxey’s shooting improvement stands out the most, he also made some important steps forward as a finisher. As silky smooth as Maxey’s floater is, he did well to rely on it a bit less in 2021-22 and embrace driving all the way to the rim through contact more. When he reached the rim, his efficiency significantly improved, too. After making 59.1 percent of his shots within three feet of the basket as a rookie, he made 65.4 percent last season. And with Maxey’s increased comfort playing through contact, his free throw volume climbed up as well — from 2.7 attempts per 36 minutes as a rookie to 3.3, while his free throw attempt rate (his number of attempts at the line per field goal attempt) jumped from .163 to .247.

From euro steps, to tough reverses at full speed, to wrong-footed layups, to soft finishes high off the backboard over leaping defenders, Maxey’s array of acrobatics, footwork, and excellent touch have made him a dynamite driver. Both when initiating offense or attacking off the catch when Harden is leading the team.

It’s impossible to fit all of Maxey’s many impressive finishes into one 2:20 video on Twitter, but here’s a selection:

Maxey has well and truly reached “rising star” status already. Now it’s time to see what level he can reach next season when another leap inevitably takes place.

As always, let me know in the comments if you have any requests for future episodes of this series!

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