Ben Simmons looked like he was ready to post up when he saw rookie Tyrese Maxey at the top of the key. The 76ers’ first-round draft choice showed no hesitation and drilled a three-pointer in the second quarter of Monday’s 118-101 win over the visiting Charlotte Hornets.
Maxey, the 21st overall selection, has made a good impression on this veteran team, but the one area that was lacking was three-point shooting.
He entered the game with just one three-pointer in seven attempts. On Monday, he doubled that total. Besides the aforementioned one in the first half, he added another early in the fourth quarter.
All told, he finished with a season-high 11 points and went 2-for-3 from beyond the arc.
“There is this narrative out there that the reason he went down in the draft is because people didn’t think that he could shoot, and I haven’t seen a lick of that, I think he is an excellent shooter,” coach Doc Rivers said. “And he will keep getting better. Once he is ready and takes a shot, he is good. He has great speed and he’s going to be a terrific player for us.”
As for the narrative of Maxey not being a good shooter, he shot just 29.2% from three in his lone season at Kentucky.
In his brief time with the Sixers, Maxey has played fearlessly driving to the basket. That is how he has scored the majority of his points. He has 20 field goals, and 11 have come on layups or dunks.
With the energy he provides off the bench, Maxey has been popular with his teammates. After he made his first three of the night, he received an “I told you!” from Joel Embiid.
“The first thing he told me when he came off the court was, ‘I shot it,’” Embiid said. “I was like, ‘Because I have been telling you every single time, just shoot it, especially when you are wide open, just let it fly. If you miss, who cares? If you make it, good and on to the next shot.’”
Embiid has liked the work ethic that Maxey has shown.
“He has done a great job. He has come in every single day and wants to learn,” Embiid said. “He does his job and it’s been great.”
The 6-foot-3 Maxey can play either guard position. He is averaging 6.3 points in 15.6 minutes for the 6-1 Sixers, who resume action Wednesday at home against the Washington Wizards.
Maxey heard questions about his shooting throughout the draft process and even after a 2-for-3 night from beyond the arc, they won’t end.
“As far as shooting,” he said, “I work extremely hard in the gym every single day, multiple times a day working, making a lot of shots, so I have confidence in myself.”
His quickness has allowed him to drive to the basket, and Maxey realizes that if defenders have to respect his perimeter game, they will have to play him tighter and that will open up more driving lanes for him.
“Knocking those shots down, the defense has to come out and play, so then it is easier to get by a defender and get in the lane and create for teammates and create for yourself,” he said.
Maxey has a deep belief in his ability, but a night like Monday will give him a confidence boost.