On August 12th, 2020 former Sixer Mike Muscala hit the game-winner resulting in the Sixers securing the 21st pick in the 2020 NBA draft.
The fate of this pick was tied to the Oklahoma City Thunder and received from Orlando for Markelle Fultz. At the start of the 2019/20 season, OKC had just started a rebuild and their chances of having a good enough year for this top 20 protected pick to convey seemed extremely unlikely. The Thunder, however, blew expectations out of the water and Chris Paul reminded us all he is still the Point God.
Tyrese Maxey was expected by most to be a lottery pick, and was certainly not expected to slip to the Sixers at 21. Given the painfully stagnant offence of the 2019/20 Sixers, he has been exactly what the Sixers needed – providing energy, scoring and fun off the bench, all in his first year out of College as a 20 year old.
Maxey has been what we all hoped Fultz would be.
So just how stupid were teams for passing on Maxey 20 times? We’re going to look at some early season form to find out.
Out of the top 20 picks, five players have been injured or not able to earn regular minutes. Maxey has clearly out-performed many who have earned limited minutes. LaMelo Ball is the standout favourite for Rookie of the Year, with current odds of -210, he has lived up to the hype of being the best player in this draft and the passes he pulls off are INSANE. Tyrese Haliburton has also impressed and has been the 2nd best rookie in the class in my opinion. See below for current NBA stats for the top 21 of this draft.
Out of the top 21 picks of the 2020 draft, per 36 minutes Maxey is ranked second in points and fifth in assists. He has the third highest FG%.
Despite being relatively small, his energy, effort and communication on defence have been great. He’s proven to be playable on this end, unlike many offensively gifted rookies. He’s also playing on a good team, and generally rookies either don’t play, or only have minor roles on good teams. It’s easy to see Maxey averaging 20 points per game on a bad team and being right in the conversation for Rookie of the Year, particularly after dropping 39 against Denver.