Philadelphia 76ers: Is Tyrese Maxey the next great Kentucky Guard?

Tyrese Maxey | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Tyrese Maxey | Philadelphia 76ers (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

With the 21st pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers select Tyrese Maxey from the University of Kentucky. Maxey was the first player selected from Kentucky in this year’s draft and it sparks comparisons to Wildcats’ guards drafted in recent history.

John Calipari, the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats men’s basketball team, is known for his skill in developing college athletes to play at the next level. The majority of players leave Calipari’s program for the NBA draft after just one year in college, but during that brief period of time under his coaching, greatness is realized. And yes I am aware there are exceptions and that most players there are top recruits and have a high base of skills, but Calipari curbs their egos and gets them to buy into playing as a team.

Over the past five years, Kentucky has had an unparalleled amount of players selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. One position that has excelled at the next level once leaving Kentucky is the shooting guard. In 2015, Devin Booker was drafted 13th overall. In 2016, it was Jamal Murray drafted seventh. Malik Monk and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander followed in the 2017 and 2018 drafts, respectively.

Finally, the most recent Kentucky shooting guard from the 2019 NBA Draft…Tyler Herro, the knockdown shooter who put the league on notice with his play in the bubble. Herro averaged 16 points per game while shooting 38 percent from 3-point range in his first NBA playoffs. So that leads us to the question at hand: Is Tyrese Maxey the next great shooting guard from Kentucky? Calipari was on ESPN after Maxey was drafted and if you ask him, he thinks Maxey can be that guy.

Maxey had humble numbers in college, averaging 14 points per game on 43 percent shooting and 29 percent from 3-point range. However, the guards I mentioned above were not lighting up the stat sheet night after night when they played at Kentucky either. They all had better 3-point shooting percentages than Maxey, but they also all improved their game once in the NBA. Using Herro as the most recent example, he shot 35 percent from deep in college and in his first year with the Miami Heat, he averaged 39 percent behind the arc.

Now clearly it is not impartial to compare Maxey to Herro and I am not claiming Maxey will have the same immediate impact that Herro did. The focus here should be on John Calipari though. He has created a system at Kentucky that works. They continuously churn out top NBA prospects, not strictly shooting guards, and the majority of these players not only remain in the league but excel and directly impact a team’s success.

That is the reason why I am very excited Tyrese Maxey is a member of the Philadelphia 76ers, not because he was a five star high school recruit or because of his stats at Kentucky, but because of the fact that he went to Kentucky.

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Dec. 22 cannot come soon enough!