The 2020 NBA Draft lottery was officially set on Thursday night, but it might not matter to Tyrese Maxey.
The former Kentucky guard has seen his draft stock range from as high as the top-6 to as low as the late first-round in just the last few months. Now that the order in which teams will pick its newest roster additions have been set, each franchise has a better idea of who will be available once it becomes time to draft. There is a consensus at the top regarding who the better prospects are; LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, and James Wiseman are all viewed as the players with the highest ceiling, but with plenty of negatives that will make organizations hesitant. After those three, the talent dips down a notch and your guess is as good as any when figuring out who will go where. Players such as Obi Toppin, Onyeka Okongwu, and Tyrese Haliburton could go as high as No. 3 or as low as the late-lottery.
For Maxey, a player once viewed as a lock for a lottery pick in what is expected to be a historically weak draft, the results of the ping pong balls didn’t have much of an effect on him. After checking out eight different mock drafts from respected outlets, most are projecting the 19-year old to fall in the 15-20 range, just outside of the lottery. Here’s a quick rundown of where the experts think Maxey will land.
The Athletic: No. 20 – Miami Heat
ESPN: No. 16 – Portland Trail Blazers
Yahoo! Sports: No. 15 – Orlando Magic
Sports Illustrated: No. 16 – Portland Trail Blazers
Tankathon: No. 18 – Dallas Mavericks
CBS Sports: No. 16 – Portland Trail Blazers
Bleacher Report: No. 18 – Dallas Mavericks
SB Nation: No. 10 – Phoenix Suns
SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell was the lone believer in Maxey going within the top 14 picks as a lottery selection. Outside of O’Donnell predicting the Phoenix Suns to take Maxey 10th overall, the other seven outlets feel like he’s a mid-first-round choice. In reality, the Suns and the Portland Trail Blazers (owners of the 16th pick) might actually be the two best fits for the former one-and-done freshman. Learning under Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum is exactly what Maxey needs to unlock himself as an elite-scorer at the next level. The same thing goes for the Suns with Devin Booker and proficient game-manager Ricky Rubio.
But it wasn’t even four months ago that Maxey was widely considered an easy choice to go in the lottery. In early May, The Athletic, Bleacher Report, CBS Sports, and Tankathon all had Maxey as a lottery choice. Since then, despite zero basketball being played and in-person workouts/interviews canceled, his stock has mysteriously tanked.
While I don’t necessarily understand why this is happening, I can argue a few points, the main one being the general confusion surrounding the top 20-30 players in the draft. As mentioned, there haven’t been many opportunities for Maxey to improve his stock without a Combine or the ability to meet in person. Add on the fact that these prospects are already surrounded by several question marks and it’s feasible to understand why he might dip a bit. Maxey’s 29 percent 3-point shooting during his season in Lexington surely hasn’t done him any favors, but there’s a consensus that his mechanics are good enough to chalk that up as an outlier. His potential as a high-level on-ball defender and proficient scorer at all three levels should be intriguing enough that he won’t fall any further than the top 20 picks.
Even still, it’s odd that Maxey has seen his value drop so low so quickly without much to argue for it. The 2020 NBA Draft is currently scheduled for Friday, Oct. 16.