As the 21st pick in the 2020 NBA Draft inched closer, Philadelphia 76ers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey was gearing up to make his first selection while running the Sixers' front office.
In the past with the Houston Rockets, Morey was known to move first-round picks. This year, though, the Sixers had multiple prominent prospects available. Ultimately, Philly ended up taking Kentucky guard, Tyrese Maxey.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Maxey was hardly ever connected to the Sixers. As many analysts believe the former Wildcat would find himself selected earlier, it seemed unrealistic he'd fall to No. 21.
When he did, Daryl Morey didn't question the reason. All he saw was a "blue-chip prospect" that fell right into the team's lap.
“I was thrilled because I think teams tend to fix in on weaknesses instead of celebrating strengths,” Morey stated. “He was a top USA basketball guy and it was a year where you could maybe find more value with the very limited views because obviously, the college season didn’t finish. Historically, guys with his pedigree coming in who play at an effective level on a top team, you put yourself in a really good spot to get a player who can help over time.”
The 20-year-old guard spent just one season at Kentucky this past year. He started in 28 of 31 games and averaged 14 points-per-game. While his shooting percentages might raise some concerns, Morey is hardly worried about the numbers on paper as he believes Maxey will translate much better to the NBA.
“People are really fixated on his shooting, but the reality is two things,” Morey explained. “One, we do a lot of things to try and look at mechanics and look at other measurables to see how he will shoot in the pros and we strongly believe Tyrese will shoot better than the number that sticks next to his name. We’re optimistic on his shooting.”
While Morey did acknowledge it typically takes a while for rookies to actually start contributing in the NBA, it seems he believes Maxey could have a role at some capacity right off the bat. Of course, only time will tell if that's true or not, but heading into training camp the Sixers' front office believes they have a young stellar combo guard on their hands, which is something they might not have been able to say before.
Justin Grasso covers the Philadelphia 76ers for Sports Illustrated. You can follow him on Twitter: @JGrasso_