The Sixers need to draft Kentucky guard Tyrese Maxey originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The most undervalued player type in the NBA draft in the last half-dozen years? Kentucky guards. John Calipari's teams have been stocked full of highly touted freshman vying for minutes and, more importantly, the attention of NBA scouts.
With all those moving parts, these guys haven't put up major raw counting stats, but their success in the pros, especially relative to their draft position, speaks for itself.
Tyler Herro: 13th pick in 2019
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander: 11th pick in 2018
De'Aaron Fox: 5th pick in 2017
Jamal Murray: 7th pick in 2016
Devin Booker: 13th pick in 2015
In a redraft, all those dudes are going earlier than their original draft spot. Coach Cal knows how to find NBA talent.
Let's play the "what if" game. Imagine if the Sixers picked up SGA instead of trading down and getting Zhaire Smith. Imagine if the Sixers took Fox instead of trading up for Markelle Fultz. Imagine if the Sixers selected Booker instead of Jahlil Okafor.
The Sixers' lack of ball handlers has done them in the last three postseasons and, most notably in 2020, has their offense bogged down and frequently unwatchable. The Sixers need some juice. They need an influx of backcourt talent.
Maybe they go star hunting and pull off a blockbuster trade for James Harden or Jrue Holiday. Maybe Daryl Morey moves this pick in that type of deal. If the Sixers keep it, though, they can get a legitimate guard this month with the 21st pick in the draft.
Enter freshman Tyrese Maxey.
Maxey is the next stud UK guard set to bring his talents to the pros.
Starting 28 games in the abbreviated 2020 NCAA campaign, Maxey, a Texas native, averaged 14 points and 3.2 assists per game. He only shot 29.2 percent from three, but his free throw percentage, which has historically been more indicative of NBA shooting success, was 83.3 percent. I believe in his shot. I believe in his playmaking. I believe in his moxie in the big moments of games.
The Sixers haven't had a player like Maxey at his talent level in forever. He possesses top-10 potential, but could easily drop into the late teens or early 20s in an unpredictable mixed bag of a draft like this year. If Morey and the Sixers keep their first rounder, Maxey is The Guy for Philly.