NBA Draft Scouting Reports

Tyrese Maxey is Kentucky’s next great one-and-done guard

Tyrese Maxey won’t always have the ball in his hands as a freshman but he should thrive at Kentucky to become a top-10 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Since John Calipari was hired as Kentucky’s head coach in 2009, eight Wildcat guards have been drafted as lottery picks: John Wall, Brandon Knight, Devin Booker, Jamal Murray, De’Aaron Fox, Malik Monk, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Tyler Herro. All used Lexington as a springboard for an NBA career (some much more successfully than others). Soon enough, Tyrese Maxey will add his name to that list.

A 6-foot-3, 198-pound guard from Garland, Texas, Maxey is probably underrated in the general NBA draft prospect conversation. He was only the 13th-ranked recruit in ESPN’s top 100 for 2019 and Jonathan Givony predicted him to go No. 14 in next June’s draft. On my early board, he’s ranked third. Kentucky’s recent guard history, along with the role he’s likely to play, should allow him to insert his name into the top-10 conversation — mostly because he’s darn good at basketball.

A significant portion of his allure is offensive versatility. Maxey has the talents to function both on and off the ball. Playing next to Ashton Hagans, he’ll have the opportunity to showcase that duality.

As a shooter, he’s built to operate off-movement, boasting compact shot mechanics, body control and the quickness to shake free from defenders. It’s a rare combination of skills to exhibit at such a young age but Maxey’s done exactly that in spurts.

That’s a difficult shot regardless of who’s taking it, at any level of basketball, yet he looked comfortable doing so at just 17 years old. If his shooting upside was primarily rooted off the ball, it’d be difficult to campaign for him as a top-three pick. Maxey, however, has deep pull-up range and the confidence to bury contested 3s.

The types of buckets shown below are relevant cues as it pertains to his strength and eventual transition to the NBA’s 3-point line. Some proficient collegiate shooters struggle to adjust. It buries their pre-draft reputations as marksmen and diminishes their overall value. Maxey doesn’t look like he’ll fall under that umbrella.

His wicked good touch shines through on this film. Three of the field goals don’t come anywhere close to touching the rim while the third kisses off back iron. I did not cherry-pick sequences to support my initial claim. Maxey’s touch is evident throughout his high school and AAU tape.

While he only shot 34.6 percent beyond the arc between four years of high school and a 19-game EYBL sample from 2018, projecting him as a high-level, diverse shooter is a shrewd move. He hit 81.1 percent of his free throws over that span and his touch extends to a weaponized floater package. Some of these baskets defy logic and illuminate Maxey’s dexterity. This is an advanced array of scoring options for an 18-year-old to own.

At times, his devotion to — and effectiveness with — floaters works against him. It implies an aversion to contact and an over-reliance on shots in efficiency limbo: inside the arc but outside the restricted area. During the 2018 EYBL circuit, this issue manifested by way of an underwhelming .259 free-throw rate. Contrasting that with the two prospects ranked ahead of him on my board — Cole Anthony (.515, 21 EYBL games in 2018) and Anthony Edwards (.400, 12 UAA games in 2018) — emphasizes Maxey’s troublesome habit.

If he can’t be expected to consistently generate easy scoring opportunities at the line, it lowers his ceiling as an offensive engine and primary ball-handler. Consider this: among the 18 All-NBA guards over the past three seasons, only two, Stephen Curry (2018-19) and Kyrie Irving (2018-19), have posted a free-throw rate south of .260.

I’m not directly comparing statistical outputs between starkly different contexts. But if Maxey’s not frequently getting to the line when he’s arguably the best player on the floor, it’s difficult to say he’ll suddenly do so against higher levels of competition. That being said, much of the problem stems from play-style tendencies rather than raw physical ability. He has the speed and strength to develop a downhill driving game. A shift in mindset and increased physicality around the rim dramatically alter his offensive potency, especially considering his high IQ and sound decision-making — both of which are prevalent in his play-making repertoire.

He is the best decision-maker among the crop of guards slated to go in the 2020 lottery, registering a 3.5:1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio between high school and 2018 EYBL play. And it’s not as though he feasted against lesser competition in high school, wrapping up EYBL with 83 assists to 25 turnovers (4.4:1.3).

Maxey doesn’t regularly apply enough pressure on the interior for his passing aptitude to assert itself as often as it should. But when he does, the hasty, veteran-like processing is obvious. Augmenting that with accuracy and vision makes him a highly valuable ball-handler, both collegiately and professionally.

In an off-ball, secondary initiating role next to Hagans this year, Maxey’s intelligence, and ability to swiftly discern reads and execute smart plays have added importance. Guards who are unlikely to command the lion’s share of an offense have to be elite decision-makers to maximize their offensive impact. Maxey is exactly that.

Because of his below-average free-throw rate, middling aggression as a dribble-drive creator and good not great facilitating, it’s tough to confidently frame him as a high-end lead guard (think Harden or Lillard). But I do know he can oscillate between either guard spot and effectively function with or without the ball in his hands.

I’ve already laid out how his pull-up shooting and floater game enable him as a primary option. Maxey can thrive with secondary usage as well, exploiting scattered defenses, attacking off the catch and beaming downhill. Deploying Maxey as a wing next to a primary ball-handler and in dribble hand-off actions are avenues to demonstrating his versatility. He’ll feast in advantageous situations.

Many of the same traits that ignite Maxey’s offensive game are pervasive in his defensive artistry: speed — laterally and North-South — strength, IQ and body control. On the ball, he fluidly changes directions and rotates his hips to foil drives. He utilizes abnormally powerful and agile hands to add steals (2.1 per game). His balance, footwork and body control are all exquisite.

A lively, bouncy nature, along with remarkable upper and lower body strength at the guard position, make him a tormenting point-of-attack defender. His lower body strength is further visible on closeouts — plays he regularly performs under control while maintaining the capacity to shut down dribble penetration.

He can stop on a dime to mirror drives and he can stonewall a post-up. Both highlight how functional and multifaceted his strength truly is.

While Maxey’s physical gifts fuel his on-ball defense, it’s anticipation, awareness and intelligence that headline his off-ball defense. Yet athleticism also factors in, as burst, hand-eye coordination and strength all help to explain his menacing play.

He lacks the upside to be a top-tier primary initiator in the NBA but that does not mean he is without special qualities. A shooter capable of efficiently hitting off the bounce and off-movement is an uncommon pairing. Someone who forecasts as a hounding point-of-attack defender with the physical and mental attributes to thrive in team defense does not materialize all that often; it’s likewise a recipe for an All-Defensive Team member. Maxey could be each of the players articulated above, meaning he’s a considerable positive on both ends of the court. Not to mention, his pull-up shooting and witty play-making yield the skill-set of a proper secondary ball-handler. Such an archetype is both hard to find and incredibly valuable.

Next: The Spurs’ future depends on the growth of Dejounte Murray

Assess all that he offers on the basketball court while also being an underrated athlete — thanks to functional upper/lower body strength, short-area explosiveness, innate body control and scarce hand-eye coordination — and Tyrese Maxey is a top-three prospect in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Sources: Jazz finalizing deal with Celtics’ Hardy
Agent: Zion secures extension, may make $231M
NBA Draft 2022: Full draft order and results for every pick
Kendrick Perkins claps back at Draymond Green in since-deleted tweet (NSFW)
Ballmer touts Clips’ title hopes ‘if we stay healthy’

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.