Tyrese Maxey was projected to go in the 15-20 range but fell to the Sixers at #21 overall. That’s good value for a Kentucky combo guard with a wide-ranging skill set. He can do a little bit of everything on the offensive end and looks sturdy enough to hold up defensively on the perimeter.
One of the concerns with Maxey right now is three-point shooting, and he hit only 29.2% of those looks during his lone season in Lexington.
The numbers are a little bit funky and require more of a dive, so let’s start with his basic stats:
No, the three-point number isn’t great, but 83.3% from the foul line is a positive sign. That’s usually a good indicator that a guy can figure it out and become more consistent at the next level.
Maxey is aware of this. He knows his shooting can improve, and said this on a Zoom call Thursday morning:
“Ever since the season ended, my thing is that I want to show people that I’m a way better shooter than what my numbers said. What I’ve been doing is I work out at 6 a.m., I go lift at 8, I’m back in the gym at 10, and sometimes will go back later in the day. But I want to be able to show everybody I can knock down those threes. I feel like I’m a way better shooter than my numbers show and it’s something I want to show at the next level.”
“I feel like I’ve been working on it all. Catch and shoot off different actions, off the dribble, you have to have all of that in today’s game. I feel like if you can’t knock down shots from everywhere, wide open threes, especially now with guys like Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid drawing attention, it’s gonna be hard to get on the floor. That’s a main focus for somebody like me in today’s game.”
In each session, Maxey says he tries to make 750 to 800 shots.
For further context, Maxey took 113 three pointers last year, though he was much more efficient at home. Twitter user @jaymoore555 pulled the home and road splits:
Interesting, isn’t it? He took twice as many threes at home than he did on the road. And 17 threes over three neutral site game is more than five per.
I looped in our resident Kentucky Wildcat alumna Amy Fadool, who said this about Maxey’s shooting in a series of tweets:
“I liked Maxey all year. Then after Booker and Herro blew up in Orlando… you knew UK guards would be on the radar. Maxey’s 29% three point percentage is deceiving. He wasn’t tasked with that too often; that was IQ and he shoots 83% from the stripe, a good shooting indicator.”
“…there is some evidence the larger Rupp is more challenging to shoot in. However, in big games, like vs Louisville and at the Garden vs MSU, Maxey came to play. So I also think he will shoot well at NBA level.”
Maxey shot 43% from three in games against top-25 teams, which included wins against Michigan State, Louisville, Texas Tech, and Auburn. The game log looks really good in this department.
I asked Maxey about Rupp Arena and his home/road splits and this is what he had to say:
“I have no excuses. I should shoot the ball (the same anywhere). They’re all regulation ten feet baskets (laughs). The basketball is the same width and it should go in the hole. But it’s weird, sometimes we’re not allowed to shoot at Rupp because of circumstances, I don’t know what it is. But I feel like my numbers don’t show how well I shoot the ball and I feel like I’ll have a chance to show that at the next level.”
Maxey clarified that the “circumstances” he mentioned refers to Rupp not always being available due to other games, shows, concerts, etc. Kentucky players would shoot at the Joe Craft Center, which is their practice facility, so they sometimes weren’t able to get shots up at their gameday arena. Rupp is one of the five largest college hoops arenas in the country, and top four if you remove the hybrid Carrier Dome from the list. There’s something to be said for the size of the place and how cavernous is can be compared to smaller mid-level arenas.
There’s more to it than just a 29.2% number, and even if Maxey can get that three-point shot into the 32-33% range as a rookie he’ll be on stable footing moving forward.