Tyrese Maxey has long been the lone Wildcat from this past season viewed to possess the most NBA potential, although his draft stock is seemingly all over the place. But you wouldn’t be able to tell by looking at the most recent mocks put out by several respected publications.
Recently, both Bleacher Report and CBS Sports slotted the Kentucky freshman to go within the top 12 picks. B/R has Maxey teaming up with De’Aaron Fox in Sacramento with the 12th overall selection while CBS has him slightly higher at No. 10, where they believe he’d team up alongside Devin Booker on the Suns.
Taking a quick look at a few other mock drafts, Maxey’s draft stock isn’t as polarizing as some might make it out to be. The Athletic also has Maxey going to the Suns with the 10th pick while Tankathon sees him sliding to 13th. The staff over at Slam Magazine were one of the very few that had him outside the lottery, dipping him *all the way down* to… 16th.
The most glaring concern is obviously Maxey’s 3-point percentage, which was an unimpressive 29 percent at Kentucky. If that number were just a few ticks higher, I firmly believe Maxey’s status as a lottery pick would have never been in doubt. His 6-foot-3 frame as a two-guard isn’t ideal, either, but he’s already proven to be an above-average defender. He showed time and time again during his time in Lexington that he could create his own shot from all areas of the floor. Maxey made 100 of his 120 free-throw attempts last year; his 3-point percentage is sure to bounce up once he gets into the league.
Barring a surprise, Maxey is likely to be the only Kentucky player taken in the literary – or even the first round – of the 2020 NBA Draft. Nick Richards and Immanuel Quickley are holding steady as projected second-round picks while E.J. Montgomery and Khalil Whitney are widely viewed to go undrafted. Ashton Hagans is easily the most difficult to project, with some saying a first-round selection might be just as likely as going undrafted.
Over at Saturday Down South, they separated all 31 of the SEC’s underclassmen that elected to turn pro into different classes. Maxey was listed as a “no-brainer” to go pro; Richards, Quickley, and Hagans were “tough calls”, but ultimately made the right choice; and Montogmerey fell in the “return to school – easy call” category. Oddly enough, SDS said Whitney’s decision was a “no-brainer” – but considering how he left Kentucky, it’s probably best he does make the immediate leap to the NBA.
Maxey’s status as a lottery pick feels inevitable. He wasn’t Kentucky’s best player a season ago, but there’s no denying his high ceiling as an NBA player.