PHILADELPHIA – The only thing faster than Tyrese Maxey is the speed that Philadelphia 76ers fans grew to cherish him. The always smiling, cheerful guard is as much of a fan favorite as he is a killer on the court for the Sixers.

Last season, Maxey firmly proved to be a rising star. He averaged 17.5 points, 4.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds while shooting 48.5 percent from the field and 42.7 percent from deep. His production got even better when James Harden came aboard. Year 3 of Maxey’s NBA career could be the first he becomes an All-Star.

The Sixers will undoubtedly be represented in the All-Star game by Joel Embiid. Harden has been there plenty of times, including last year, and will likely put up numbers that keep him in the conversation. Maxey seems like a likely candidate to join them given his ability to improve his game and score at will.

After his second preseason game scoring 20 points in one half, however, Maxey bluntly said that he doesn’t have any interest in the individual accolade.

“None whatsoever,” he said when asked how big of a priority being named an All-Star is to him. “Me being an All-Star would not help us win a championship. Honestly, I just wanna go out there and try to help us win…Personal accolades, I have no interest in them. It’s all about the team.”

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One of the key reasons Tyrese Maxey has dominated so far is the muscle he added to his frame. The 6-foot-2 guard knows he can turn on the jets going to the rim because he has the strength to get a shot up through contact. But the true benefit, he explained, comes on the other side of the ball.

“I feel stronger. I can fight through screens. Sometimes when we switch, I can box out,” Maxey said. “That was really one of my main things: I didn’t want to be a defensive liability because of size…I don’t want there to be any type of slack defensively…I want to be able to be solid and do whatever coach needs me to do defensively to help us win.”

The Sixers are looking to build a strong defensive unit that can switch on screens at the perimeter, so Maxey’s ability to guard up at least one position is critical. As the smallest guy in the starting lineup, he stands out as an obvious candidate to pick on defensively. If Maxey makes any advantages less fruitful for bigger opponents, or even figures out how to take them away, the Sixers’ defense will induce headaches on a nightly basis.

Maxey also mentioned how having more strength enables him to get to stay firm in his spots and get to the free throw line more often. His growing confidence as a catch-and-shoot artist from deep will only stress defenses further. He already shot 45.1 percent on catch-and-shoot triples last season, but those shots only made up 2.2 attempts out of 13.3 shot attempts per game. Looking to take more of them (which can be aided by Philly getting out in early transition more) will both get the Sixers more easy looks and spread defenses out further. The last thing you want to give to someone with Sonic the Hedgehog-level speed is more room to attack.

Tyrese Maxey has bought all the way into head coach Doc Rivers’ “we season, not me season” mentality. Both his talent and his mentality are key reasons why the Sixers have the potential to be a true title contender.

“I feel confident because of the work that I put in, so I’m confident in myself,” he said. “But then, I’m confident in my teammates and they’re confident in me…I’m just here to help us win. I really don’t care about anything else, that’s really it. Whatever I can do to help us win, that’s what I do.”