Sixers head coach Doc Rivers hopped on the Vince Carter Show podcast this week to chat about the Sixers, James Harden, and everything going on heading into the 2022-23 NBA season.
Rivers touched on a lot with Carter and co-host Ros Gold-Onwude, but one part that stuck out to me was one comment Rivers made about the Sixers' young star-in-the-making Tyrese Maxey.
Here's what Rivers had to say about Maxey, including a hilarious anecdote about the 21-year-old's offseason:
"He's the most impressive young player I've ever had, in 21 years of coaching. His work ethic, Vince, is beyond belief. Many times already this summer, already two or three times, we've had to tell him to go sit down somewhere and go relax.
"He works with Sam Cassell and my son Spencer, they're skill-developing coaches. He called Spencer two weeks ago because, I guess like Ros, he went on vacation. The difference, Ros, is this is the first vacation he'd ever been on in his entire life. That's what he was telling us. I was like, 'Wait, what?' He was like, 'No, I've never been on vacation. He asked Spencer, 'What do you do on vacation?' True question, what do you do on vacation? And Spence was like, 'You relax!' And [Tyrese goes], 'For how long? For how many days? We're going for a week, I can't relax for a week.'"
READ: 'I call him my son': Cassell, Spencer Rivers all in on Maxey's growth
That's high praise from Rivers. But who exactly is he comparing Maxey to when he references those 21 years of coaching? Let's investigate.
I went back and looked at the young players Rivers has coached during his two-plus decades in the league. What's "young" in this sense? Let's say a player entering their fourth year in the league, or younger.
When you look back at Rivers' coaching career, he's been in charge of a bunch of veterans for a large part of the time - but that doesn't mean he hasn't had any talented young guns under his watch.
Here are a few pretty good players who Rivers coached early in their careers:
- Corey Maggette
- Ben Wallace
- Tony Allen
- Al Jefferson
- Rajon Rondo
- Avery Bradley
- Blake Griffin
- Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
- Ben Simmons
- Matisse Thybulle
(Bonus: Austin Rivers, his own son!)
Those are some pretty good players! And according to Rivers, Maxey is more impressive than any of them in terms of his combination of hard work and talent level. Incredible.
Maxey is entering Year 3 with some sky-high expectations, both from Sixers fans and from the organization - and also, frankly, from the basketball world at large. And he's earned those expectations! I know we make a lot about the leap he took from his rookie season to Year 2, but it was truly astronomical.
Real quick, a look at the most basic counting stats:
- Rookie: 8.0 PPG, 2.0 APG, 1.7 RPG | 46% FG, 30% 3P, 87% FT
- Year 2: 17.5 PPG, 4.3 APG, 3.2 RPG | 49% FG, 43% 3P, 86% FT
It's absolutely comical that he wasn't nominated for the NBA's Most Improved Player last year. The kid is really special, and he's just getting started.