Going into last night’s NBA Draft, former Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey was seen as potential lottery selection, with a few outlets listing the 6-foot-3 prospect out of Garland, TX as a fringe top-ten talent.
As the draft went on and picks were made one by one, the former Wildcat found himself in a bit of a tumble, slipping out of the top ten, then the lottery, then the top 20.
After a long wait, the Philadelphia 76ers finally called Maxey’s name, selecting the dynamic scoring guard with the 21st overall pick.
“I just want to compete, show them what I can do. I trust myself, put the work in. I’m so excited, man. I’m so excited. I’m thankful,” he said moments after being drafted. “… I thank Philadelphia for this opportunity. I promise you it won’t be a regret.”
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) November 19, 2020
Tough delay for the former Wildcat guard? Sure. It’s never easy to watch players go before you, especially at your position. Each drop in draft position also equates to a financial hit – Maxey’s rookie scale is set at $2,065,700, while the, say, No. 14 pick has a $2,882,000 first-year rate – so that certainly comes into play, as well.
Regardless of how things unfolded, it was a drop that has both sides excited for the future. For Maxey, the chip on his shoulder grows after being passed over and he gets to play for a winning franchise bound for the playoffs in year one. For the Sixers, they add a dynamic scoring threat capable of contributing right away, one driven to prove his doubters wrong.
“I always play with a chip on my shoulder, because that’s just who I am,” said Maxey, via Ky Carlin of SixersWire. “I’m extremely grateful for where I ended up. I feel like it’s a great opportunity for me and I’m very thankful to Philly for giving me this shot and I’m going to go out there and give 110% and give it my all and make sure that it’s not a regret.”
“I’m very happy,” Philadelphia head coach Doc Rivers told ESPN after the selection. “Attitude. Tough. When you have a guy like Ben [Simmons] who has the ball, you don’t need a pure point guard, you need guards, you need players, and I think Tyrese fits that mold.”
As for the drop, Philadelphia team president Daryl Morey believes teams focused too much on Maxey’s weaknesses instead of the long list of strengths he boasts.
“I was thrilled because I think teams tend to fix in on weaknesses instead of celebrating strengths,” Morey said. “He was a top USA basketball guy, and it was a year where you could maybe find more value with the very limited views because obviously, the college season didn’t finish. Historically, guys with his pedigree coming in who play at an effective level on a top team, you’re putting yourself in a really good spot to get a player who can help over time.”
One of the specific knocks on Maxey? His 29.2 shooting percentage from beyond the 3-point line at Kentucky.
“People are really fixated on his shooting, but the reality is two things,” Morey added. “One, we do a lot of things to try and look at mechanics and look at other measurables to see how he will shoot in the pros, and we strongly believe Tyrese will shoot better than the number that sticks next to his name. We’re optimistic on his shooting.”
With his scoring ability and defensive versatility, Morey believes he’s a sure-fire lottery talent that he was able to get toward the end of the first round, something the entire franchise is “very excited” about.
“We were excited to have such a blue-chip prospect there, top 10 in high school, I like guards who can guard multiple positions and he can do that,” Morey said. “… The overall package outside of that, he’s just a guy you get in the lottery and to get him at 21 and at a position of need, we’re very excited about that.”