Knicks Prospect Breakdown: Tyrese Maxey
[Tyrese is the 11th prospect in the 2020 draft that I've done a breakdown on. You can read about Cole Anthony here, Deni Avdija here, Tyrese Haliburton here, Anthony Edwards here, RJ Hampton here, Killian Hayes here, Onyeka Okongwu here, Obi Toppin here, Devin Vassell here, or LaMelo Ball here.]
Tyrese Maxey is a 6'3" freshman guard from the University of Kentucky. Weighing in at 198 pounds, Maxey isn't the most physical of threats - but his shotmaking ability should have him on lottery teams' radars. He averaged 14 points, 4.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per game on almost 43% shooting from the field. Maxey also shot an encouraging 83.3% from the free-throw line, which should detract from some of the concerns regarding his low percentage on jumpshots (32%).
Synergy ranks Maxey as being excellent in two main offensive categories - in transition (84th percentile, 21.5% frequency) and as a pick and roll ball handler (86th percentile, 20.5% frequency). Maxey is a great finisher who has displayed touch with both hands; he can score from a plethora of angles in part due to his ability to take contact regardless of where he's attacking from.
In the P&R, Maxey can score both by attacking and via his pull-up jumpshot, but he never showed much of a feel for passing in those situations. Any passing that did occur was likely a simple drive and kick - Maxey can make the easy passes when he has to but has yet to demonstrate an ability as a true playmaker.
Maxey can certainly make shots, but he also took a concerning amount of contested ones, mostly due to a consistent struggle with creating space. He can certainly handle the ball at an NBA level, but what appears to be a simple lack of "burst" off the dribble inhibits him from being able to beat his man to the rim or get them to repeatedly bite on a fake.
As a shooter, Maxey might be best defined as "streaky". Some of his misses are reminiscent of the worst RJ Barrett misses from three-point land last year - the ball doesn't even make contact with the rim. With some adjustments to his jumpshot, one of which might involve raising the point at which he releases the ball, Maxey should be able to at least just make his open looks from deep.
I'm impressed with Maxey on defense, for sure. His 6'6" wingspan definitely gets put to use through his physical and high-effort style of play. When faced with defending a pick & roll at the point of attack, Maxey usually finds an optimal combination of his IQ, feel for the game, and physical length to use when reacting to the offense.
As a team defender, he knows how to rotate and can handle guards his size in the paint - the issue comes with the fact that bigger players can tend to give him some trouble, and most players are bigger than him. His lack of lightning-quick speed prevents him from being able to make the type of incredible plays we see from premier defensive guards like Marcus Smart, but his high intelligence on defense certainly gives me confidence in his ability as a playmaker on both ends of the court.
I project Maxey to be taken in the lottery without doubt, but certainly not as one of the draft's top picks. If the Knicks land the seventh or eighth pick, as is most likely due to their odds as the team in sixth in the "lottery race", Maxey might be a legitimate target for them there. I can't see him being a primary initiator/playmaker in the league for a multitude of reasons, but Maxey could certainly thrive in an offense where someone else is doing a bulk of the playmaking and taking some of the scoring load off of his shoulders.
RJ Barrett could certainly develop into the type of playmaker Maxey might benefit from playing beside, but I don't think he's at that level in terms of his passing ability right now. The Knicks drafting Maxey in the lottery would mean they weren't able to acquire any of the five (Ball, Hayes, Haliburton, Lewis Jr., Anthony) point guards who are currently seen as being lottery talents, and the fit next season between Barrett, Maxey, and whoever the team has to play point guard would likely be a bit strange. However, the Knicks are not in a position, in my opinion, to pass up on the best available talent when they are drafting just because a different prospect would have a better "fit" on the team, so I would still select Maxey if he were the player on the board I liked most.
Maxey, Barrett, and Robinson would have their fair share of concerning plays, as any young trio of non-shooters might; the three would also produce a ton of highlights, between Maxey's shot-making, Barrett's finishing athleticism, and Robinson's ability as a lob-threat and overall athletic freak. Whether this group of young players, along with Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox, will be impressive enough to draw the attention of free agents of the caliber the front office seems to be pursuing, is the question.