By now, everybody knows Kentucky players have a tendency to outperform their draft position once they reach the NBA.
Recent examples are Devin Booker, Bam Adebayo, Tyler Herro, De’Aaron Fox, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Karl Anthony-Towns.

With the 21st pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the 76ers found themselves with an easy selection: Tyrese Maxey out of Kentucky.

Maxey seemingly had a wide range of potential outcomes on draft night. Some mock drafts had him as a lottery pick and others had him going in the twenties. The consensus, however, seemed to be that he would more than likely be off the board by the time the Sixers made their selection. Daryl Morey, Elton Brand, and the whole front office did a really nice job to not overthink this pick and took the best player that was on the board at 21. Sixers fans should be extremely thrilled with this pick because Tyrese Maxey is the next hidden gem to come out of Kentucky.

As a freshman, Maxey put up 14 points, about one steal, and over three assists per game. He shot only 29.2% from three but shot 83.3% from the free-throw line. It’s been well documented that Maxey has been putting in tons of work during his long off-season and I have no doubt that he’ll be a solid shooter in the NBA. Another Kentucky star who shot a low percentage from three in college is De’Aaron Fox. Fox shot only 24.6% from three in his freshman year. By Fox’s second year in the league, he shot 37.1% from three.

Three Level Scoring

Tyrese Maxey also showed that he can score in a variety of ways. He has a strong mid-range game, can get to the rim with excellent body control, uses floaters, and has the confidence to pull up from deep.

He’s already a three-level scorer heading into his rookie year. John Calipari has raved about Maxey all year long.

“Tyrese Maxey reminded me of Jamal Murray. Jamal is a little bit bigger, probably 6-foot-5 but the same kind of player – on the ball, off the ball, fight to defend, deflect balls, rebounds above the rim.”

Big-Game Player

Watching Maxey’s highlights, it’s easy to tell that he is a big-game player and a big shot maker. Look no further than his performance against then ranked #1 Michigan State. This was Maxey’s first career game at Kentucky. He came off the bench and scored 26 points, hitting 3 three-pointers, including the game-sealing shot from deep range with just a minute remaining.

Photo: Alex Slitz/

Against Louisville, Maxey put up 27 points, hitting 4 of 5 from deep. In that game, he also collected 7 rebounds and a steal. Maxey had some of his best games against the best opponents Kentucky faced throughout the year. With the pandemic shutting down college basketball and eliminating the NCAA tournament, Maxey didn’t have a chance to add big-game performances to his resume. Every year, there are players who shoot up draft boards due to their performance in the tournament. Tyrese Maxey undoubtedly would have been one of those players if the tournament was played.

No matter the reason for lucking into Tyrese Maxey with the 21st pick, the 76ers have found themselves a gem.

With plenty of room for improvement in terms of being a secondary ball-handler and three-point shooting, Maxey is a rare player that’s ready for the league and has a high ceiling at the same time.

The Philadelphia 76ers have had a tremendous offseason thus far, reshaping the roster to better fit Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Tyrese Maxey is going to be a huge part of this team’s success in the short-term and long-term.
It may not be clear right now, but Daryl Morey has struck gold with his first pick as President of Basketball Operations for the 76ers.

Featured Image: Alex Slitz/
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