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‘One percent better every day' takes Maxey to first All-Star Game as East reserve

‘One percent better every day' takes Maxey to first All-Star Game as East reserve originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Tyrese Maxey often preaches that his goal is to get “one percent better every day.”

Those days have all added up to Maxey’s first NBA All-Star selection.

Maxey was announced Thursday night as one of the Eastern Conference’s seven All-Star reserves. Teammate Joel Embiid was named a starter last week.

The NBA’s head coaches decided the reserves for the All-Star Game, which will be played on Feb. 18 in Indianapolis at Gainbridge Fieldhouse. The East’s other six reserves are Bam Adebayo, Paolo Banchero, Jaylen Brown, Jalen Brunson, Donovan Mitchell and Julius Randle.

The West’s seven are Anthony Edwards, Devin Booker, Stephen Curry, Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, Paul George and Karl-Anthony Towns.

Maxey earned his place by averaging 25.7 points, 6.6 assists and 3.6 rebounds. The Sixers have gone 29-13 when he’s played and lost all four games he’s missed.

Maxey has assumed the second-star role while maintaining a very low turnover rate. He has an outstanding 6.4 turnover percentage outside of garbage time, per Cleaning the Glass, and is a major reason why the Sixers lead the NBA in that category.

When Embiid’s rested early in second and fourth quarters, Maxey’s often been excellent. He’s second in the NBA in second-quarter points per game (8.9) and ranks sixth in fourth-quarter scoring (7.7).

With James Harden dealt to the Clippers three games into the Sixers’ season, head coach Nick Nurse has asked the 23-year-old Maxey to be more commanding and vocal as the team’s lead ball handler.

“I mentioned early in the year that there were a lot of pieces to what Tyrese was doing and needed to do,” Nurse said on Jan. 24. “Obviously being aggressive and scoring, I always talk about that. I talk about running the team, improving his defense, using all those gifts that he’s been given on both ends of the floor. And I thought that was a huge area of growth — his vocal leadership area.

“I thought he grew a lot right away. I think just being put in the position for the first time, there was certainly a lot of room for growth. … And I think he continues to grow. It’s just comfort, seeing all these different situations, seeing all these different teams, the highs and lows of the season. All those things are information that he’s gathering and he’s using, and I think he just feels more comfortable. He’s certainly confident. ... It’s an important part of the job for him.”

Nurse has also praised Maxey’s progress defensively. He’s often been fine with opposing teams trying to create switches and have bigger players go at Maxey.

And when Maxey’s level has lapsed, Nurse has let him know.

“Last game I was pretty bad defensively,” Maxey said after a Jan. 10 overtime loss in Atlanta. “I didn’t get into the ball. … He told me about it, and I told him that I’ve got him and it won’t happen again. And tonight I just stayed in the ball. No matter who I was guarding, I was aggressive.

“I know I can be a pesky defender. I know I can do a lot on offense, but I’ve got to go out there and play both ends extremely hard, no matter how many minutes I’m playing. It doesn’t really matter. I’ve just got to go out there and give 100 percent every single second, every single day that I’m out there.”

Maxey’s ceaseless, joyful approach to day-after-day self-improvement has already gotten him to an All-Star Game.