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Tyrese Maxey, the Sixers’ first-round draft pick, is out to prove he can score

He's been working out in Los Angeles, focusing on his three-point shooting. "I wanted to show people that I’m a way better shooter than what my numbers say," he said.

Kentucky's Tyrese Maxey (center) shooting against Alabama in January, is out to prove he can score from three-point range.
Kentucky's Tyrese Maxey (center) shooting against Alabama in January, is out to prove he can score from three-point range.Read moreJames Crisp / AP

Tyrese Maxey wanted to get one message across a day after being selected as the 76ers’ first-round draft choice, No. 21 overall in Wednesday’s NBA draft.

Maxey, a 6-foot-3 combo guard from Kentucky, emphatically stated that his shooting ability is much better than the statistics suggest.

That’s a good thing because in his only season at Kentucky, Maxey shot just 33-for-113 (29.2 percent) from beyond the arc.

“Ever since the season ended, my thing is I wanted to show people that I’m a way better shooter than what my numbers say,” Maxey said in a Zoom call on Thursday.

From May until Monday, he said he had been working out in Los Angeles, with a heavy dose of three-point shooting. He said he was in the gym at 6 a.m., and the shots would follow in bunches.

“My goal at the 6 a.m. session was to make 750 to 800, go lift, and come back and do it all over again,” he said.

Maxey, 20, is represented by Klutch Sports Group, so he has gotten to work out with fellow Klutch clients Ben Simmons and LeBron James.

“Those guys are inspirations. They’re like big brothers to me,” Maxey said. “And now I will be on a team with Ben. It’s really cool.”

Maxey’s Pro Day with fellow Klutch client and the draft’s overall No. 1 pick, Anthony Edwards, was televised by ESPN, giving him even more exposure before the draft.

When training camp begins next month, Maxey won’t be lacking confidence.

“I feel like I can go in and make an immediate impact on a contending team, a competitive team,” said Maxey, who averaged 14 points for Kentucky. “They want to win now, and I feel like I fit right into that culture because I am going to make those winning plays, and do what it takes to win, and that is what I think I bring to this team.”

Maxey wore a blue T-shirt that said, “Fall in love with the process.”

He said he has been wearing a shirt with that saying way before he was on the Sixers’ radar. The Sixers, of course, are the original Trust the Process team.

“In high school, my uncle gave me a shirt that said, ‘Fall in love with the process,’ and it kind of just stuck with me with the way I work and getting up at 6 a.m and doing those different things like that,” he said.

The Sixers also introduced their two second-round draft choices, Arkansas sophomore shooting guard Isaiah Joe (selected 49th) and DePaul junior power forward Paul Reed (58th).

The 6-5 Joe became the fourth freshman to lead the SEC in three-point field goal percentage (41.4) two seasons ago. Last year, he shot .342 from beyond the arc.

“Of course, I probably won’t have the green light that I had at U of A, but I feel like the team is bringing me on for a reason, and that’s to shoot the ball,” Joe said. “They are not going to bring a shooter on the team to not shoot the ball, so that’s what I am going to do.”

While shooting has defined Joe, Arkansas coach Eric Musselman said in the NBA draft guide, “I don’t think he’s a good defender; I think he is a great defender. He is long. He’s got great anticipation. He understands his assignment every night. It’s not often [that] when you have a scorer, you can put him on an offensive weapon on the other team.”

Added Joe: “I feel my defense is something overlooked in my game.”

It’s not overlooked in Reed’s game. The 6-9 forward carved his reputation on defense, with 142 career blocked shots, third most in DePaul history. As a junior he averaged 15.1 points, 10.7 rebounds, and 2.6 blocked shots.

Reed said he could add value as a center in a small-ball lineup for the Sixers. He said in college he defended mainly centers.

He will hang his hat on his defensive ability.

“That is how I’ll earn my minutes,” he said.

As a freshman at DePaul, he averaged just 9.9 minutes, 3.6 points, and 3.1 rebounds. Reed kept improving until averaging a double-double as a junior.

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As with many late second-round picks, Reed felt he should have been selected higher and will use that as motivation as he begins his NBA career.

“I am grateful and excited that Philly took a chance on me,” he said. “I feel that every team that passed up on me, they are going to regret that decision.”