Revelation on the Philadelphia side in a season like no other, between Ben Simmons who was not playing then the arrival of James Harden who changed everything, Tyrese Maxey showed the extent of his progress at two positions in 2021/22.
He initially acted very well in the lead, when Ben Simmons was waiting to be transferred, before returning to a more natural position, at the back, alongside James Harden, where his aggressiveness was noticed. .
Playing 20 minutes more per game, he went from 8 to 17.5 points on average by improving his shooting success percentages. A progression that did not surprise Sam Cassell, assistant coach of Doc Rivers in Philadelphia.
“Who didn’t expect that? Every player I work with, from John Wall to Bradley Beal to Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to Austin Rivers, takes big leaps forward every year.”the former Rockets point guard tells NBC Sports. “I know basketball, I know how to succeed. Tyrese was not in the Top 10 or 15 of his Draft, so we were surprised to manage to have him. I was happy to have him, this kid with untapped talent. »
“Let him become a scorer at all levels: near the circle, mid-range and 3-pts. Currently he is at two levels and he needs to add the mid-range shot”
When he works with him, the three-time NBA champion (1994, 1995 and 2008) prefers short sessions. It is useless for him to take two hours when only one, or even less (45 or 55 minutes), seems to be enough according to him to ” go into details “. Even if he pushes him “to the maximum physically, to try to tire him”. Thus, in matches, when the legs are heavy, “he always has the mental aspect to put his shots”.
Sam Cassell logically emphasized the mid-range shot, a still imperfect weapon in the Philadelphia player’s arsenal. He knows what he’s talking about: the former Milwaukee or Boston was excellent in those areas and this shot is coming back strong after years of 3-pt domination.
“My role is for him to become a scorer at all levels: near the circle, mid-range and 3-pts. Currently, he is two-tiered and he needs to add mid-range shooting. I mastered it and I slip him some advice. When he gets it, he will be very strong. I’m not an advanced stats guy. In the playoffs and during the Finals, this is the shot you can get. When the defenders change, we can shoot in these areas. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are excellent at mid-range, do you think they take care of advanced stats? We have to push Maxey to continue in this direction. »
Not only does Tyrese Maxey have Sam Cassell on his back, but also Spencer Rivers, Doc’s son and Austin’s brother, who is never far away either. He too is an assistant with the Sixers.
“My job is to make his life easier when he needs something,” explains Spencer. “If he needs me in Dallas, I’m going. Similar to Philadelphia or Los Angeles. If he works well, he has a good chance of being a great player so I don’t want to be the one to put a spoke in his wheels. I will do my best to work with him. »
“When he is 15 years old, I want him to be a great player and not just a good player”
The great experience of the 2004 All-Star, with 993 matches played in the regular season and 136 played in the playoffs, was particularly valuable when the 2018 MVP was transferred.
Sam Cassell was thus able to give keys to Tyrese Maxey in the face of this new situation.
“I told him that I knew this league and that no one, neither his family nor his agent, was going to tell him that: with Harden, he was going to have the ball, he was going to eat. He didn’t understand since he was the leader until now. After five or six matches alongside Harden, he asked me how I had come to know that. Because James is a great passer and he was going to have the ball in the wings, and he was going to have open award-winning layups and baskets. He wouldn’t have any more pressure, that would be James’s job. And now look at the numbers before and after Harden arrived. »
Without James Harden, Tyrese Maxey averaged 16.9 points, 47% shooting success and 39% behind the arc. With the former Houston player next to him, he did better and posted 18.7 points per game at 52% success and 48% at 3-pts.
Sam Cassell, who considers himself a “great uncle” for the player he calls “my son”, isn’t he sometimes too strict with his foal?
“No, I’m not that hard on the players. I can coach him hard, I can run into him. He knows it. He also knows that I’m not doing this for me, but only for him. My career is behind me, I will not change it. But his is just beginning. When he is 15 years old, I want him to be a great player and not just a good player. If all the players had his intensity and his work ethic… A formation with 15 Tyrese Maxey, it would not be a good team, but a great team. »