76ers' Tyrese Maxey wins 2023-24 Most Improved Player award

Maxey averaged 25.9 points, 6.2 assists and 3.7 rebounds in his fourth season.

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Tyrese Maxey is officially the second Sixer to win the Most Improved Player award. 

The NBA announced that Maxey earned the honor on Tuesday night. Bulls guard Coby White and Rockets center Alperen Şengün were the other two finalists for the accolade, which was voted on by a 100-person panel of sportswriters and broadcasters.

Maxey narrowly beat out White, finishing with 319 total points to White's 305. Maxey received 51 first-place votes.

Before Maxey, the only Sixer to be named the Most Improved Player was Dana Barros for his 1994-95 season. 

Maxey lived up to his reputation as an extremely hard-working, ever-growing young player in Nick Nurse’s first year as Sixers head coach. With James Harden traded to the Clippers three games into the Sixers’ season, Maxey became reigning MVP Joel Embiid’s No. 2 star. And when Embiid missed February and March because of a left meniscus injury, he stepped into a No. 1 role. 

Nurse and Embiid have constantly pushed him to attack. 

“He’s on me every single day,” Maxey said of Embiid after scoring 50 points vs. the Pacers on Nov. 12. “It’s literally like big brother, little brother. When I come over sometimes and he passes me the ball and I don’t shoot — and I drive or do anything else — I know that I’m going to get an earful from Joel Embiid. 

“You’ve just got to appreciate that, honestly. That’s the MVP of the league. For him to have trust in us as a team and for him to have trust in myself, I just appreciate it. And I just go out there and try to be my best for him.”

The 23-year-old went on to score 51 points against the Jazz on Feb. 1 and 52 points against the Spurs in a double-overtime win on April 7. He made his first All-Star Game and averaged 25.9 points, 6.2 assists and 3.7 rebounds. 

Beyond that production, Nurse saw plenty of progress. 

“He’s been really, really good,” Nurse said on April 9. “Everybody said, ‘Oh, it’s a year for Tyrese to take a step forward.’ Well, he’s certainly done that, right? He’s had to carry a lot of the load because of injuries and all that stuff, too. He seems to be learning a lot more facets of the game other than just his numbers have gone way up. 

“If you’re sitting there and looking at these awards, you say, ‘Let’s compare this guy’s numbers with that guy’s numbers.’ But his awareness, his defense, his toughness … just his overall play. I think a lot of (other) things have gone up as well.”

Next up for Maxey and the Sixers is Game 3 of their first-round playoff series vs. the Knicks on Thursday night.

While it wasn’t relevant for Most Improved voting, Maxey was extraordinary in the Sixers’ dramatic, hotly disputed Game 2 loss, playing through an illness and posting 35 points and 10 assists. Through four NBA seasons, Maxey’s norm has been improvement. 

When the Sixers took Maxey 21st overall in the 2020 NBA draft, president of basketball operations Daryl Morey said he was “thrilled."

That's still the case.

“The Most Improved Player award is a testament to your incredible work ethic including countless early mornings in the gym perfecting your craft,” Morey said in a Sixers press release. “Your journey to All-Star in just your fourth season is inspirational to everyone who watches you play. Your dedication to continuous improvement and excellence has you on the path from MIP to MVP.”

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