Is Sixers' Tyrese Maxey the best Kentucky guard in the NBA?

Minnesota Timberwolves v Philadelphia 76ers
Minnesota Timberwolves v Philadelphia 76ers / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Tyrese Maxey is taking the next step that all Philadelphia fans and those within the organization were hoping for in his fourth year in the NBA, He is currently averaging 26.3 points (12th most in the NBA) and 6.5 assists (15th most in the NBA). The assists may be the most meaningful improvement in his game as many media members questioned if Maxey had the playmaking ability to be a true point guard in the league. I think he is answering that question definitively this season.

I wrote about Maxey and his potential in November of 2020 when I posited if he would be the next great University of Kentucky guard in the NBA. That article was followed up on in March of 2022 with an answer to that question. This article series has been an extremely interesting conversation considering the guard talent that comes out of Kentucky, which leads me to the next question:

Is Tyrese Maxey the best Kentucky guard in the NBA?

To answer that question, we need to take a look back at which Kentucky guards were drafted in recent years. Here is the applicable list.

  • 2015 – Devin Booker
  • 2016 – Jamal Murray
  • 2017 – De'Aaron Fox & Malik Monk
  • 2018 – Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
  • 2019 – Tyler Herro
  • 2020 – Tyrese Maxey

John Calipari has been an extremely impressive recruiter of guards so much so that I encourage NBA General Managers to simply draft guards off the bench from this program and it will work out for them.

This season there is a legitimate argument placing Maxey as the second-best player from the aforementioned players. The only definitive player currently playing better is Shai Gilgeous-Alexander who is a unanimous top-five NBA MVP candidate and some rankings have him top-three. Devin Booker, Jamal Murray, and Tyler Herro have had playing peaks, including in the postseason, likely better than Maxey, but this year the trio have battled injury and the lack of consistency has them below Maxey.

Malik Monk has had a resurgence with the Sacramento Kings and looks in form alongside his Kentucky backcourt running mate, De'Aaron Fox. Fox is playing at an All-NBA level as well thus far, but the Kings are slightly underperforming coming off of last season's three-seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

If you were drafting NBA players, these seven Kentucky guards have a case to all be in the top 50 and a number of them top 25. You cannot go wrong building your NBA backcourt with players coached by Calipari. Even though Maxey may not be the best active Kentucky guard, it is not out of the question in a couple of years if he keeps this growth trajectory.