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2020 NBA Draft Coverage: Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky

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A high energy combo guard with some scoring chops

Mississippi v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

At 6’3”, 198lb, Tyrese Maxey has the ability to become a multilevel off-ball scorer in the NBA. As a combo guard at Kentucky, Maxey had ample opportunities to show off his oozing confidence and off the dribble scoring by putting up 14.0 points per game, snagging 4.3 rebounds, and dishing out 3.2 assists. His strengths netted him some impressive 2019-20 All SEC second team and 2019-20 SEC All-Freshman honors, but while he screams NBA potential, the league is no stranger to under-sized high-volume scorers. He's slated to fall somewhere between the end of the lottery and the low twenties, meaning he’s within reach of the Jazz. So, should they take a shot at him?

Stats

Per game: 14.0 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 0.9 steals, 0.4 blocks, 2.2 turnovers, 42.7/29.2/83.3 shooting splits

Advanced: 53.1% True shooting, 4.4 box plus-minus (2.4 offensive, 2.0 defensive), .134 win shares per 40

Physical: 20 years old (turned 20 this month), 6’3” with a 6’6” wingspan, 198 pounds

Strengths

Every team in the NBA loves the ability to throw someone the ball and have them get a bucket. Maxey has that potential. An outstanding part of his game that shows that potential and could possibly translate well into the league is his ability to finish around the rim. While Maxey isn’t huge, he has very good control of his body, both on the floor, and in the air. His solid frame and good athleticism gives him the ability to hang in the air and finish with touch. This past season, he scored a very good 1.203 points per position on non post-up shots around the basket. The ability to score over larger defenders around the rim will not only be a benefit for the teams he plays on, but will also help extend his career in the NBA.

Another plus to Maxey’s game is his high energy on the defensive end. When isolating on ball, Maxey more than held his own and kept opponents to 0.26 points per one-on-one possession [97th percentile]. At 6’6”, his wingspan isn’t anything crazy, but he stays balanced, doesn’t bite on fakes, and takes advantage of his quick feet to catch up and contest shots when he gets beat. While he wasn’t able to force too many turnovers, his ability to stay in front of guards will be a huge sticking point for teams. Along with his ability to get a bucket around the rim, I think the fact that he has the potential to become a dependable on ball defender in the NBA will be what keeps him in the league for a long time.

Auburn v Kentucky Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

Weaknesses

The most obvious weakness is pretty straightforward: shooting. As an undersized guard, shooting 29.2% from downtown won't cut it in the NBA. While his off the dribble shooting wasn’t too bad [64th percentile], his catch and shooting was pretty abysmal [16th percentile]. I think his percentages make him look like a worse shooter than he actually is because his shooting mechanics are pretty solid. He has good motion and balance on his jumper, but he would really benefit if he shot more up than out (a higher release angle). He's shown flashes of good NBA range, but his poor shot selection contributes to the lower percentages. Like many young volume scorers, he has the tendency to get tunnel vision and miss easy passes, leading to highly contested shots and inconsistent games. Becoming a primary playmaker isn’t something that should be expected out of Maxey. At his best, he thrives as a secondary or tertiary ball handler that puts the ball in the hole rather than creating for others.

Furthermore, his size will always be a limitation. While officially listed at 6’3”, Maxey only stands at 6’1” without shoes. He's got a solid frame, but putting on some more muscle and weight would only benefit him. Even though he is a great on ball defender, larger players can bully him on switches. Getting stronger would mitigate that weakness, but wouldn’t eliminate it.

Jazz Fit

While players like Tyrese Maxey are always fun to watch, an undersized combo guard who doesn’t currently have the ability to catch and shoot isn’t exactly what the Jazz need right now. His on ball defense is enticing, but at 6’3”, he isn’t the type of defender the Jazz are looking for. There are taller, longer, and more effective 3 and D wing players in the Jazz’s draft range that would fit the system and compliment Donovan Mitchell’s game better. He could have the upside of becoming a solid starter in the league, but in Utah, his strengths wouldn’t be shown.

Player Comparisons

Colin Sexton, Jordan Clarkson, A young Eric Gordon

Stats from NBADraft.Net and Sports Reference. More great in depth statistics and analysis from the NBA found here.