The 2020 NBA Draft should have happened almost four whole months ago, but of course, the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. What this has done is give teams more time to watch tape and players hoping to land a draft spot more time to train. Most of these draft prospects had their respective season’s cut short. Tyrese Maxey is no different. The former Kentucky Wildcat last played for the Blue and White against Florida back on March 7th. The Wildcats came back in dramatic fashion. Maxey led with the team with 39 total minutes played out of 40. That type of hardnose play is why Maxey will be a Lottery Pick. For those who didn’t see Maxey play here is the Tyrese Maxey 2020 NBA Draft Profile.
TYRESE MAXEY. CLUTCH ? pic.twitter.com/IAmhmTOB2A
— ESPN (@espn) November 6, 2019
Length and Strength
Maxey, standing at 6’3″ with a 6’6″ wingspan, uses his length and strength to help him on both sides of the ball. Offensively, this allows Maxey to barrel into the lane, finish in traffic, or make a play to the perimeter. While he is a bit short for the two-guard in the NBA, his strength will allow him to play and defend the position. His length and strength help make up for his average athleticism. While at Kentucky he was also able to pass the ball easier due to his wingspan as well as grab rebounds sometimes at will. Rebounding for Maxey is largely an effort thing, and when the effort was put in he could grab 5+ rebounds from the guard position. Defensively, his wingspan allows him to guard the perimeter and make defensive plays some players can’t.
In a win over Anthony Edwards‘ Georgia Bulldogs in Athens, Maxey recorded four blocks. That was a season-high to go along with a season-high eight assists as well.
Maxey is a playmaker. Point blank. His value as a player comes from his ability to run the point when needed while handling the ball with a scorer’s mindset. Pick and rolls and drives to the hoop allow Maxey to make plays for himself and his teammates. While it would be nice to see him focus on making his own play without forcing it, his skills will develop more and his decision making should improve. Before making his way to Kentucky there was a fear that Maxey didn’t have great court vision. After a year under John Calipari, his decision making and basketball IQ got better. Playing with a floor general like Ashton Hagans surely didn’t hurt either.
While 3.2 assists a game are not eye-popping, Maxey was playing alongside two other great guards in Immanuel Quickley and Hagans. They averaged 2.0 and 6.4 assists respectively. Maxey will be able to handle the ball at the NBA level and distribute out of the one spot if needed.
— CBS Sports CBB (@CBSSportsCBB) February 29, 2020
Much in the same vein as former Calipari guards like De’Aaron Fox and John Wall, Maxey is able to get down the court quick. He may not be quite as fast as Fox and Wall, but he is in the elite category. On the fast break of course Maxey can get down to the other end quickly and make an offensive play, but he can also get chase down loose balls and make hustle plays. Speed is a trait that can be overlooked in the NBA because there are a lot of fast players, but guards who run the floor will always have value. As a rookie, the speed of Maxey along with his strength will allow him to come off the bench and at the least bring a jolt of energy to the court. If that can’t do it, his bright smile and attitude will.
While Maxey is listed as a combo guard, he will mostly play the two spot in the NBA. He has the capability to handle the lead guard position for short periods of time. There were times at Kentucky where Maxey made boneheaded decisions, but as a young player, this is expected. There is a little worry that Maxey will be too short for his position and his three-point percentage was not something to love, only 29.2%. There is evidence from AAU games that he can shoot the ball better. There is a hope that he is able to improve his mid-range pull-up and if he does he will be even more dangerous off the pick and roll as well as driving to the rim. His athleticism does leave something to desire, but he uses great skill to overcome that.
2020 NBA Draft Comparison: Ben Gordon
Ben Gordon and Tyrese Maxey both about 6’3″ and 200lbs are similar in many ways. Gordon was known for using his strength and size to get into the paint, draw contact, and make the occasional play. Maxey may not have the same Rookie season as Gordon did, winning Sixth Man of the Year and being named First Team All-Rookie. However, Maxey could end up being an NBA Sixth Man of the Year at some point. Maxey’s ceiling may be a bit higher than Gordon’s career averages of 14.9 points, 2.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists. Maxey won’t shoot the ball as well as Gordon did but may average a higher overall FG% (43.2%). Both are great free throw shooters and capable defenders. The Gordon/Maxey comparison is a modest expectation for Maxey and should be a level of play that he can live up to or exceed.