It seems NBA scouts and franchises are sold on Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey as a fringe top-five pick.
In ESPN’s latest 2020 NBA Mock Draft released this morning, Maxey came in at No. 6 overall to Minnesota where he would join former Wildcats Karl-Anthony Towns and Jarred Vanderbilt with the Timberwolves.
Maxey is the first of three Kentucky players on the list, with sophomore point guard Ashton Hagans and junior center Nick Richards also included.
Hagans came in at No. 36 overall, also joining Maxey with the Timberwolves, while Richards was slotted at No. 50 overall to the Golden State Warriors.
Check out ESPN’s entire mock draft:
This comes just three days after Sam Vecenie of The Athletic released his latest 2020 NBA Mock Draft based on what he was hearing from league sources on “draft ranges on specific players.”
“At this point, the mock draft is almost entirely about what I’m hearing from sources about draft ranges on specific players, as opposed to it more being about where I am on players,” Vecenie wrote.
In that mock, The Athletic listed Maxey at No. 5 overall, followed by Hagans at No. 38 and Richards at No. 50.
Almost identical to the latest ESPN rankings.
While ESPN’s Jonathan Givony didn’t provide analysis for each of his picks, he did break down Richards’ leap into the draft boards a bit more in-depth.
Richards’ appeal starts with his tremendous physical tools — a 7-footer with a 7-5 wingspan, a chiseled, 250-pound frame and impressive athleticism. That translates to the defensive end, where Richards switches onto guards, covers ground well and uses his length to contest jumpers, while also having the bulk to bang with traditional bigs and protect the rim. Kentucky mostly keeps things simple for him offensively, but his ability to explode off two feet and finish is a huge advantage. Richards has some real touch, even starting to make free throws (75%) and midrange jumpers in small doses.
He also noted why he’s still not as bullish on Richards as others, citing the 7-foot center’s low assist and steal rate, growing age, and lack of feel for the game as key reasons for his status as a second round pick.
The game still moves too fast for him at times, which shows most notably on the defensive glass and when asked to make simple passes. No college player in the past 30 years has been drafted with a combined assist and steal rate are as low as Richards’. Considering he’s already 22, his poor feel for the game is certainly a concern when projecting him to the NBA, where his physical advantages won’t be quite as pronounced.
Most of Richards’ worst games this season came against similar-size players, so it will be important for him to continue to produce against elite competition heading into March. Despite his shortcomings, Richards has moved himself back into consideration as a draftable player, something that looked likely when he first enrolled at Kentucky and just took longer than initially expected.
With these newest draft projections, Kentucky would be expected to return the likes of EJ Montgomery, Immanuel Quickley, Keion Brooks Jr., Johnny Juzang, and Dontaie Allen, along with the No. 1 recruiting class in 2020 featuring the likes of BJ Boston, Terrence Clarke, Devin Askew, Isaiah Jackson, Lance Ware, and Cam’Ron Fletcher coming in.
There is still a month left before the NCAA Tournament brackets are released, so plenty can (and will) shift regarding players and their draft stock – I would still be shocked to see Montgomery and Quickley back – but it’s still an interesting possibility nonetheless.
What would fans think about that potential lineup next season?