Going into the 2020 NBA Draft, the Philadelphia 76ers were hoping a new front office and coaching staff could take them to places they haven’t been throughout the Brett Brown and Bryan Colangelo era.
Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey made a big splash ahead of the 2020 NBA Draft as he moved Al Horford to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The move had multiple benefits at the time as the Sixers got off of Horford’s expensive contract and landed a seasoned veteran sharpshooter in Danny Green.
Many expected Morey to keep dealing on draft night, and he did. However, there was an expectation that the 76ers would move off their 21st overall pick to net a veteran player. Instead, they gambled on the Kentucky freshman Tyrese Maxey.
In a 2020 NBA re-draft, Maxey comes off the board at pick No. 5. At the time, the Cleveland Cavaliers used the selection to land Isaac Okoro out of Auburn.
“Even on a team with James Harden and Tobias Harris, there were plenty of stretches when Maxey felt like the rightful second option behind Joel Embiid.
"He was certainly the best on the team at getting from the perimeter to the rim, and that kind of driving ability can make life easier for everyone else.”
Following a promising freshman year at Kentucky, Maxey made it hard for Sixers head coach Doc Rivers to give him a red shirt season in Philadelphia. Maxey proved he had potential in the NBA, even in a limited role, by averaging eight points off the bench in 61 games.
Ben Simmons’ holdout led to the 76ers relying on Maxey more than they probably wanted to for his sophomore season. Looking back on it, the Sixers are likely happy they had the opportunity to expand Maxey’s role.
In year two, Maxey averaged 17 points while doubling his three-point percentage to 42 percent from deep in 74 starts. He earned himself some Most Improved Player recognition as he looked like a star in the making alongside some of the NBA’s most dominant players in Joel Embiid and James Harden.
On draft night in November of 2020, many speculated that Daryl Morey and the Sixers got a steal with Maxey at No. 21. A re-draft two years later confirms that idea to be true.