Tyrese Maxey entered college guns blazing, lighting up the preseason number one Michigan State Spartans with a 26-point performance in the season-opening game that firmly established himself on the NBA radar.
For those who have followed Maxey's journey his offensive explosion shouldn't have come as a surprise.
High school, AAU, and international competitions at the highest levels have always featured Maxey stepping on the court and instantly getting buckets and for that reason, it wasn't shocking when he was a potent scorer for Kentucky.
When you look at the landscape of the NBA the best teams always have multiple shot creators in the backcourt and Maxey is just that-someone who can improvise when a play breaks down and still find a way to get a bucket. Individual creation is a premium skill in the draft market and Maxey provides those abilities and that's why he's poised to hear his name called on draft night.
Maxey is an offensive firecracker, someone who defences need to be aware of at all times during a possession because it doesn't matter where he gets the ball-he can make something happen.
Incredibly creative as a scorer he uses an advanced understanding of spacing and movement to get into cracks in the defence and make plays.
With the ball in his hands, Maxey is one of the most polished scorers in the draft and is especially deadly in pick and roll. Because of the threat of his pull-up jumper defences are already on their toes the moment a screener comes to get Maxey. He often uses that to his advantage using a deceptive first step to blow by his man and get into the paint. Once he's into the teeth of the defence you can really see Maxey's scoring knack.
At 6'2" Maxey is a bit undersized but he doesn't let that bother him in the lane using a variety of mid-range jumpers or floaters to shoot over top of shot blockers. Muscular at 200 pounds Maxey really knows how to initiate contact in the air to create the space he needs and with a 6'5.5" wingspan he can hold the ball out wide and away from defenders to complete layups. What makes Maxey so exciting as an offensive player is the fact that his first step allows him to get into the paint whenever he wants to and once he's there he knows exactly what to do. Watching Maxey play you see him get downhill again and again and again - scouts seeing SEC competition struggle to keep Maxey in front of them will project well to the League.
Speed and creativity in finishing around the rim also makes Maxey one of the best transition scorers in the draft. A torpedo in the open floor it was tough for opponents to stop Maxey and his ability to either stop on a dime for a pull-up or go all the way for a layup allowed him to collect easy points early in the shot clock.
Maxey is far from a traditional point guard but he's a willing passer who can make the right reads when defences respond to his initial drive. He especially loves finding big men ducking in when help defence comes to meet him in the paint and he served his teammates a number of easy buckets on a silver platter. For a player that plays the game at turbo speed, Maxey is fairly responsible and doesn't turn the ball over a ton, something that will help him stay on the floor early in his NBA career.
At only 6'2" and not a traditional lead guard it could be tough for teams to find a natural position for Maxey. He's probably best as a two-guard due to the fact he's not an NBA-level passer or ball handler who could be a team's primary initiator, but he's also someone who needs the ball in his hands to be effective.
Effort is never an issue for Maxey and he gives his all on the defensive end and while he was a passable defender in college he could struggle at the NBA level.
Maxey can be a gambler and is someone who did too much reaching and playing with his hands in college, something that led to him giving up a lot of drives. He'll give his all and try to stay glued to his man coming off screens but there is a lot of work to do with his footwork and fundamentals and at this point he's probably going to really struggle to compete on the defensive end.
Maxey only shot 29% from three in his lone year in college and that number is going to make teams do a double-take.
He showed he was able to hit the pull up jumper but really struggled as a catch and shoot player hitting only 25% of his attempts (via Synergy Sports Tech), something that further shows he needs the ball in his hands if he's going to be effective. Considering he's going to enter the league as a role player his struggles to score away from the ball are going to bite him and it could hurt his ability to get on the floor and therefore his development.
Looking at Maxey's stroke and the fact he's an 83% free throw shooter shows he's likely a better shooter than the 29% three-point mark would suggest - he was also dragged down by 39 3-point attempts in the last 4 seconds of the shot clock last season. Maxey was one of the only real offensive creators for Kentucky and for that reason, he was the player forced to take last-second heaves after offensive possessions stalled.
Another concerning element of Maxey's game is the fact that he got a lot of his offence in transition feasting on easy buckets but in the half-court was far less lethal.
The NBA is a half-court game where you've got to score against a set defence and Maxey's talent in the open floor won't have nearly the opportunities to manifest itself in the NBA as it did in college. When you take away what Maxey was able to do in transition and look at only what he accomplished in the half court he's far less of an explosive offensive player and it's something NBA front offices will have to weigh when deciding his value.
Projected NBA Draft Position: Late first round
Projected NBA Role: Sixth man
NBA Comparison: Bryn Forbes
The views expressed here do not represent those of the NBA or its clubs.