MILWAUKEE — Tyrese Maxey’s prepation has been the same since the preseason.
The 76ers rookie works out at the Sixers practice facility on off days, and puts in extra work on game days.
“You kind of stay ready, so you don’t have to get ready,” said Maxey, who’s averaging 7.2 points and 14.5 minutes heading into Thursday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks at Fiserv Forum.
His work ethic was evident in Tuesday’s 116-113 setback to the Phoenix Suns at the Wells Fargo Center. Maxey took advantage of extended minutes since Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, and Tobias Harris were sidelined.
The 21st overall pick in November’s draft had 14 points on 5-for-11 shooting to go with three assists, two steals, one block, and a turnover in 31 minutes, 29 seconds. It was Maxey’s most playing time since logging 36:14 against the Miami Heat on Jan. 12.
That came during his six-game stretch in the starting lineup because numerous teammates were sidelined with injuries or were in the NBA’s COVID-19 health and safety protocol.
Maxey played well against the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 7, the game before he made six consecutive starts. He averaged 18.8 points during the Nets game and the first five starts before not scoring in his last start. In Maxey’s first start, the 20-year-old had a career-high 39 points on 18-for-33 shooting, as the Sixers played with just seven players against the Denver Nuggets on Jan. 9.
Maxey has proven he can score. Yet, he’s a rookie who makes rookie mistakes on a veteran team. As a result, his minutes have been inconsistent.
But he’s taking advantage of the minutes he’s received in recent games against the Los Angeles Clippers, the Golden State Warriors, and the Phoenix Suns. Maxey had nine points on 4-for-7 shooting in 15:47 in Friday’s victory over the Clippers. Monday, he had 10 points on 5-for-9 shooting in 16:11 in the loss to the Warriors before scoring 14 on Wednesday.
It marked his 14th double-digit scoring effort in 49 appearances.
Yet, Maxey was far from satisfied with his overall play. He was disappointed with a couple of breakdowns on the defensive end.
“I didn’t tag [on] one play and gave up a corner three,” Maxey said Wednesday night, “and it’s really weighing on me right now, because those are big plays in the game that I have to be able to help the team out and win.”
One has to love his drive to play mistake-free basketball.
It led him to being a McDonald’s All American at South Garland High School in Texas. It enabled him to become a freshman standout at Kentucky last season. And it’s the reason why the rookie takes no days off.
For him, the biggest eye-opener in his NBA rookie season is attention to detail.
“You don’t have much time to prepare for a team, because it’s non-stop basketball,” he said. “It’s non-stop scheduling. I’m playing a different team every night. So you know that attention to detail in film sessions and walk-throughs and shootarounds, and just doing your own film study on your own.”
That and staying ready are the biggest things he’s learned this season.
Unlike high school and college, Maxey goes into games not knowing if he’s going to play. But he’s preparing himself by being in the gym “staying ready.”
“No matter how many minutes I play, no matter how many minutes I don’t play, I’m still going to get that extra work in,” he said, “just because I almost feel like I have to.
“It just feels like I have to step on the floor and be productive and get 1% better every day.”