Main Scouting Report
Tyrese Maxey is yet another premiere guard that is entering the NBA draft as a potential lottery pick out of the University of Kentucky under coach John Calipari. Maxey entered Kentucky as a 5-star recruit to pair with Ashton Hagans and Immanuel Quickley, and Maxey lived up to his potential in Lexington.
Maxey projects to be a combo guard or an undersized off-ball guard at the next level, due to his 6’3 height. Despite his height, Maxey has an incredible finishing package and is very tough through contact from larger defenders. Maxey is a capable ball-handler and can create for himself off the dribble to get to the paint or to hit one of his signature floaters. He was a streaky shooter and could get hot and win a game single-handedly for Kentucky as he did early in the season against Michigan State at the Champions Classic.
However, there are several questions surrounding Maxey’s game at the next level. He was a solid on-ball defender in college due to his strength and quickness but will most likely have trouble guarding larger players night in and night out at the next level. Also, Maxey shot 30% from 3 at Kentucky and will need to improve considerably to carve out a role in the NBA.
Out of Kentucky’s backcourt trio last year, Maxey was the most devastating player with the ball in his hands as he was attacking the rim. He had the power and burst to blow past his defenders and create space for himself going into the paint, where he used his body control and athleticism to finish around bigger players consistently. He has a complete package of layups with both hands and can finish floaters and moving jumpers with ease, making him a lethal isolation player on offense.
Tyrese Maxey is not a great playmaker, but was strong in the pick in roll as the initiator this year, and could often create for others out of those plays. Kentucky’s offense is predicated on the drive and kick mentality from guards, so Maxey developed a keen ability to look for others, making him even more of a threat going towards the rim.
With all of that being said, there are still concerns with Maxey that could lead to him slipping out of the lottery, and into the later teens of the first round. Maxey does not have the size of an average or even below-average shooting guard in the NBA right now, and that could lead to massive defensive struggles that could keep him off the court. He has the potential to be solid, but the lack of height or an elite wingspan could be a detriment if he ends up on the wrong team. If he is surrounded by capable defenders, Maxey could thrive despite his shortcomings.
Maxey was also a below-average shooter at the collegiate level, shooting 42% from the field and 30% from 3. He was encouraged to drive by his coach, and that led to him playing passively and giving up open shots on too many occasions. When Maxey was feeling himself, he could be one of the best shooters in the world, like he was against MSU early in the year, but he only reached that level a few times at Kentucky. He will need to prove he can shoot league average from 3 consistently to have a role at the NBA going forward, which I am confident he can do.
NBA Player Comparison
If Maxey reaches his full potential as a player, I see him becoming the player that Donovan Mitchell has been so far in his career for the Jazz. He is a capable off-ball combo guard that is lethal with the ball in his hands and can finish around the rim at an elite level. Maxey is not the athlete that Mitchell is, but can make up for that in other ways. Maxey has a long way to go, but a top-end shooting guard in the league can be attainable if the chips fall in his favor.
If he doesn’t reach his full potential, I still think Maxey will stick around the league for a long time as a rotation player because of his ability to score and the potential to shoot at a high level. He could end up being a player like Lou Williams or Jamal Crawford, elite scorers off the bench who are not asked to play much defense and just focus on offense.
Maxey has been projected as high as a top-7 pick in some mock drafts and has been low as the mid-20s in others. I am on the higher side for Maxey because I believe he will develop into at least an average shooter from deep, and I love his ability to score through anyone at any time. He has a chip on his shoulders at all times and that will help keep him in the league for a long time at some capacity.
I think Maxey will be selected at the end of the lottery, between 10-14, and he will not slip below the 18th pick.
I think Maxey will ultimately be taken just outside of the lottery, and be selected between 15-20. There are plenty of teams that have a need for an instant scorer and Maxey could be that filler for those teams. I think Maxey’s best fit would be with the Orlando Magic, who have the 15th pick. The Magic have a strong core, but have offensive struggles, particularly from the backcourt. Along with Markelle Fultz, Maxey could form one of the fastest backcourt duos and be the scorer that Fultz needs next to him.
Basketball IQ: 8
He always was in the right spot at the right time and avoided fouls to stay on the court.
Maxey was able to be a leader for a young Kentucky team the minute he stepped in the door.
Maxey is very strong and fast for only being 6’3, and will need to use those to make up for his height disadvantage.
Maxey has the potential to be a top end shooting guard if he reaches his peak as a player.
Below-average shooter in college, but projects to grow into an average shooter at least.
Maxey was strong in the drive and kick, but was not asked to initiate the offense.
Maxey is a strong downhill dribbler, but will not be an elite ball handler.
He was an average rebounder as a guard.
Maxey played hard night in and night out, even if he had offensive troubles.
He is a capable on-ball defender, but will struggle due to his size.
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