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2020 NBA Draft Profiles: Tyrese Maxey

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The former Kentucky Wildcat could be a good running mate for Doncic.

Kentucky v Texas Tech Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

Kentucky alumni thriving in the NBA is an established and prestigious pattern. Tyrese Maxey could be the next Wildcat to do so. Will it be in Dallas?

The Specs

Height: 6’3”

Weight: 198 lbs

Wingspan: 6’7.75”

Key Notes

Offense

  • Best used as a secondary creator/off-ball player, not as a primary ball handler
  • Really good finisher in the paint
  • Shooting is subpar right now, but an improvement can be projected
  • Pick-and-roll game is sharp
  • Good at running the floor in transition
  • Passing/floor vision needs to improve (even though he’ll be used a secondary option)
  • Handle is not a weapon right now

Defense

  • Best utilized defending the primary ball handler
  • Guarding two-guards seems promising, as long as they aren’t too big
  • Good instincts, sees plays before they happen
  • Not really a gambler, which is usually a good thing, but sometimes misses out on a big play opportunity (think Maxi Kleber’s interior defense)

Active Player Comparisons

If everything goes wrong: Jordan Poole

If everything goes right: Jamal Murray extra-lite

Most Realistic Outcome: Bryn Forbes

Stats and Accomplishments

2019-20 All-SEC Second Team, SEC All-Freshman Team

Best Games Last Season

vs. Louisville

27 points, 7 rebounds, 9-14 (64.3%) FGA, 4-5 (80%) 3PA

vs. Michigan State

26 points, 5 rebounds, 7-12 (58.3%) FGA, 3-7 (42.9%) 3PA

3 Key Things

  1. The Shooting

I feel like shooting makes the list for all of these profiles, but for Maxey it’s especially important. As someone who will be utilized at the next level as a score-first guard, shooting will be an important piece of the puzzle. Despite the low percentages, Maxey’s shooting checks two of the most important boxes: good free throw percentage and good mechanics. Maxey shot 83.3 percent from the free throw line last season, the fifth highest among SEC players that took more than 100 free throws. For the most part, Maxey’s shooting form is good. His release is a little low and he tends to not put much arc on the ball, but these seem like fixable issues. So, why did Maxey still shoot below 30 percent this season? Consistency. He was a very streaky shooter as a freshman. The best case scenario for him would be getting drafted by a team with a playmaker that can create his shots for him.

2. The Role

Kentucky’s offense was really unique last season, often running three guards who are now all NBA prospects. His role in the NBA will likely be as a scoring guard rather than a primary ball handler. Maxey still shows a lot of promise in the pick-and-roll, perhaps indicating that he could run an offense in short bursts. Still, putting him next to a talented playmaker will be the best way to maximize his talent.

3. The Defense

Maxey is a very good defender, especially given his size. According to Synergy, he allowed only 0.26 points per one-on-one possessions. He thrives in on-the-ball situations, especially guarding primary guards. If we are being picky, I’d like to see him get a bit more aggressive on defense. He averaged only 1.3 STOCKs (steals + blocks) per game last season. He has the vision and instincts, now I’d like to see him impact the game more by shooting into passing lanes and reaching a bit more often.

The Checklist

Role with the Mavericks

Maxey is the ideal guard to put alongside Luka Doncic. He’s not someone who needs the ball to score, he’s a great defender and he can score from multiple places on the floor. He’d offer the Mavericks prolific scoring and strong defense coming off the bench. The only missing piece would be who you play as the other guard when he’s on the floor. Brunson is also used best as an score-first guy, so it’d be interesting to see how these two play together.

Summary

Let’s preface this final part with maybe the most important piece of information: the chances of Maxey still being on the board at 18 are slim. I currently have him at 11 on my personal big board, and somewhere between 10 and 15 seems to be the consensus among draft guides. But this is a draft like no other. Scouts have had more time than usual to evaluate prospects. Maybe they’ve begun to overthink things. Maybe doubts about Maxey’s shooting have snuck into their heads. Maybe he slips on draft night. If that becomes the case, it’d be difficult to convince me he’s not the guy for the Mavericks.