Can Tyrese Maxey win 6th man of the year for the Philadelphia 76ers?

Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers - Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia 76ers - Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports /

As a general rule in life, it’s often about how one finishes, not how one starts. That’s clear with the NBA 6th Man of the Year award, one that suddenly looks like it could be in play for the Philadelphia 76ers’ star Tyrese Maxey.

The award has had its fair share of stars claim the award, including Manu Ginobili, Kevin McHale, Jamal Crawford, and Lou Williams. Just last year, Tyler Herro won the award after a scalding scoring season that helped the Miami Heat clinch the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference.

After an early season skid that inspired some calls from outside of the team to think about trading away key pieces, the 76ers have bounced back and reasserted themselves as one of the teams to beat in the Eastern Conference.

In his third season, Tyrese Maxey has stepped more into the starring role that he teased as a sophomore in the NBA. He’s upped his scoring, steals, and rebounds for the Sixers, who are sitting at 3rd in the East this year. In recent weeks, however, Doc Rivers has made a change in the starting lineup, replacing Maxey with De’Anthony Melton for a defensive boost.

Since Maxey’s seemingly permanent switch to the bench, the 76ers have gone 7-3. But just as important is the fact that, for a team that may be snakebitten in end-of-year awards, Tyrese Maxey may have a real shot at winning Sixth Man of the Year.

What makes Tyrese Maxey a star?

Maxey’s emergence last year was one of the shock stories of the season, as few saw his scoring breakout coming. He more than doubled his points and assists, taking on a more central role for a top-tier NBA team.

His main trait is his blinding speed, which lets him dart into the lane and score or dish at will. There are few players faster with the ball in their hands and Maxey has an elite level of speed whether he’s attacking in transition or in the half-court:

He’s also improved as a shooter, knocking down threes at a higher clip than when he played at Kentucky and forcing defenses to respect him out to the arc. His improvement as a pull-up shooter in the NBA has raised his overall ceiling as an offensive player to a level that bends defenses now:

While it may seem like a demotion, Maxey’s move to the bench is not about his lack of skill. Rather, with two offensive superstars already in the lineup in Joel Embiid and James Harden, Doc Rivers’ decision stems from the idea that Maxey can dominate more against bench players with more chances to have the ball in his hands.

Why could he win 6th Man of the Year?

So far, the counting stats don’t look much different for Maxey. In the past 10 games, he’s averaging 16.6 points, 3.2 assists, and 0.9 steals on 45/41/80 shooting splits. Other than his scoring, which has dropped a bit, those stats are relatively the same.

When digging deeper into advanced metrics, however, Maxey’s impact is clearer. Over the past 10 games, Maxey has the 3rd-best net rating for the 76ers. He’s been impactful in that bench role for most of the game, but has also helped to deliver some clutch wins for the team by closing out with the old starting lineup.

It’s inspiring to see that Maxey’s energy level hasn’t dipped since he went to the bench, which may stem from the idea being at least partially his own. He’s been just as much of a terror for opposing defenses to try to contain and there’s little reason to assume that won’t continue:

Given the potential loss of confidence and reputation that benching can often inspire, it’s a great sign to see that Maxey’s remained a supremely talented scorer off of the pine. If the 76ers can stay near the top of the standings, they’ll garner more eyes, more clicks, and more momentum for a player like Maxey to get noticed and win the 6th Man of the Year award.

Final thoughts on the award:

Maxey won’t be able to waltz into his first major award; Malcolm Brogdon, Norman Powell, Bennedict Mathurin, and Russell Westbrook all figure to make it a legitimate race toward the end of the season.

Other than Brogdon, however, the other three candidates are either unsigned or playing on teams that have no shot at winning an NBA title. The added weight of the gravity of Maxey’s bench minutes should factor into the minds of voters come award season.

Next. Re-grading last year’s monumental Harden-Simmons trade. dark

Although it may have been a shocking move, Tyrese Maxey’s transition to being the 6th man for the Sixers may turn out to be a blessing for both team and the player. After a difficult start to the season, both Philadelphia and Maxey might finish stronger than expected and have a lot of hardware to show for it.