Philadelphia 76ers: Grading the 2020 NBA Draft picks

Tyrese Maxey | Philadelphia 76ers | Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Tyrese Maxey | Philadelphia 76ers | Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /

(21) Tyrese Maxey >>> A

Maxey shouldn’t have dropped to where he did, and Daryl Morey said as much in his press conference late Wednesday night. Teams too often focus on a player’s weakness, rather than all the things he does well. Maxey shot only 29.2 percent from deep as a freshman, but he was — in the front office’s mind — too talented to pass up.

The recent track record of Kentucky guards selected in the first round is strong. Jamal Murray, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Tyler Herro are some of many success stories. Maxey plays a different brand of basketball, but he comes from a program long-established as a breeding ground for NBA talent.

At 6-foot-3, Maxey is one of the best guard defenders in this draft. He has a strong frame and a 6-foot-6 wingspan, and he does an excellent job fighting over screens to keep in front of ball-handlers. The Sixers are littered with defensive versatility, and Maxey will add a valuable on-ball presence in lieu of Josh Richardson.

Maxey is also a better shooter than his 3-point percentage suggests. The mechanics are tight and he’s plenty confident, as evidenced by his game-sealing bucket in Kentucky’s first game of the season. He has been working tirelessly to improve it over the hiatus, and his 83.3 percent success rate from the charity stripe should inspire confidence in long-term growth.

Beyond his shooting, the Sixers will use Maxey to vill a void in the backcourt. He’s not a point guard, but he is a shot creator — someone who can create his own offense and, on occasion, set up teammates. Maxey finishes strong inside, he’s a nasty mid-range scorer, and he’s comfortable dribbling out of the pick-and-roll. He’s someone Doc Rivers should get a lot out of.

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The Sixers passed on a handful of interesting prospects — most notably Tyrell Terry, who ranked a few spots ahead of Maxey on our board — but in the end, Maxey presents tremendous upside at 21. He should contribute right away.