The NBA season is still on hold. No one is exactly sure how or when the season will conclude. Will there be more regular season games? Will there be a full postseason? Will a champion be crowned?
The regular season resuming looks doubtful, as the clock ticks toward the next league season, with free agency and the draft on the horizon. But we do know is that there will be a draft. The exact date may change, but it will happen. That is one thing Kings fans can certainly look forward to.
With that in mind, it’s time to dive back into prospect previews. We have covered two of the most sought-after college players in Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman. Either could go No. 1 overall. The Kings could have a chance to pick either player, but it would require moving up in the lottery and those odds are slim.
We also profiled Isaac Okoro, who isn’t in the discussion for the top pick, but could be a dream fit for the Kings if he falls toward the end of the lottery. It’s important to remember we don’t know exactly where Sacramento will be making its selection, but the most likely scenario would be around pick 12.
Many college players have declared for the draft since the season was put on hold. Among them is Kentucky’s Tyrese Maxey, a 6-foot-3 guard who projects to be drafted somewhere between picks 5 and 15.
A player Maxey’s size may raise some questions regarding fit with the Kings roster, but he has an intriguing skill set nonetheless. Depending on how the lottery shakes out, he could be the best player available when it is Sacramento’s turn on draft night.
Maxey’s appeal starts on the defensive side of the ball. He is an excellent defender at the point of attack. He can smother opposing ball handlers with surprising quickness and tremendous strength. His off-ball defense is just as impressive, as he moves well around screens and rarely loses focus.
He has a diverse set of offensive tools, but one stands out above the rest. Despite often being the smallest guy on the floor, Maxey is automatic at the rim. He connected on 52.5% of his attempts near the basket. His dangerous floater and strong midrange jumper compliment that skill nicely to put Maxey’s conversion rate at 49.2% for all 2-point shots.
The defense and the close-range scoring are his strong suits, but let’s not forget Maxey played point guard for one of the most acclaimed college programs in the nation. He is not an elite passer or ball handler, but those are still positive aspects of his game. He should help the ball movement of any lineup he plays with.
Finally, Maxey’s competitive nature and personal maturity bring strong intangibles to his game. From what we have seen of him in college, Maxey represents a leader in every sense of the word. You simply will not hear any questions about his effort or desire to win. He is all-in on being the best and making sure his team succeeds.
Depending on whom you believe, Maxey could stand anywhere between 6-foot-1 and 6-foot-4. Measurements are unreliable in professional and college sports alike, but we know he is point guard-sized, at best. That is a serious concern, as he doesn’t have the traditional point guard skill set. He may just be an undersized shooting guard.
For a player his size, Maxey lacks the handles you would expect. He is aggressive with crossovers and makes plenty of highlight plays, but he also appears out of control at times. His passing is competent, but by no means elite. He probably won’t be able to run an offense, even when coming off the bench.
Outside shooting is another concern for Maxey. He shot only 29.2% from 3-point range this season. His volume from distance wasn’t all that high either. He is a great free-throw shooter and he showed nice range in high school, but it’s hard to have confidence in his NBA shot without proven success in college
This is where the theory of Maxey could fall apart entirely. Can a small guard really succeed on defense and short-to-middle range shooting? The most common NBA comparison for Maxey is the Boston Celtics’ Marcus Smart, who is unique to say the least. It would be nice to have more examples of players like Maxey that succeeded.
FIT WITH THE KINGS
If Maxey is available when the Kings pick, and there are no obviously more-talented players on the board, another issue may arise. Regardless of what role teams see for him, there is no doubt he is a guard. And the Kings have plenty of those.
De’Aaron Fox is a franchise point guard. There’s a battle between Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic for the starting shoot guard spot. Sacramento’s third-highest paid player is backup point guard Cory Joseph.
Maybe the Kings should not select another guard with their only 2020 first-rounder when there are other positions that need help. However, Maxey’s talent should make him a reasonable option if small forwards Isaac Okoro and Devin Vassell are off the board.
He might take some time to develop, and Maxey could be a nice replacement when the team moves on from Joseph, who has two years left on his contract. He also could be a quality backup plan if Bogdanovic does not return or if Hield requests a trade.
Hopefully none of those scenarios happen, but the bottom line is that adding talent is a good thing, regardless of position. Maxey could represent great value for the Kings if they pick in the late lottery spots.
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