76ers' Tyrese Maxey Thought Heat, Spurs, Magic Would Draft Him: 'You Never Forget It'May 12, 2022
Tyrese Maxey has emerged as one of the NBA's brightest young stars in just his second season, serving as a crucial player for the Philadelphia 76ers as they seek a championship.
But Maxey told Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports that he never expected to be on the board in the 2020 NBA draft when Philly drafted him No. 21 overall:
"I thought Miami would take me at No. 20. Look, I was blessed and happy to be drafted, first and foremost. I thank the Lord every day for this opportunity. It was my dream to be drafted. But also looking at it as a competitor, I felt like I was good enough to be drafted at a higher position. When teams pass up on you, you never forget about it.
"Miami, Orlando and San Antonio. Those were the three teams I thought would draft me. When I started slipping, I was upset, but I kept reminding myself that my dream of getting drafted was coming true."
The Spurs instead drafted Devin Vassell No. 11 overall, while the Magic took Cole Anthony at No. 15 and the Heat selected Precious Achiuwa at No. 20. With all due respect to those players, the Spurs and Heat would probably like a mulligan.
In fact, outside of the Minnesota Timberwolves (Anthony Edwards at No. 1), Charlotte Hornets (LaMelo Ball at No. 3) and Sacramento Kings (Tyrese Haliburton at No. 12)—and maybe the Detroit Pistons (Saddiq Bey at No. 19), Chicago Bulls (Patrick Williams at No. 4) and the aforementioned Magic—quite a few teams from that draft would undoubtedly like a second chance to go back and nab Maxey.
"I don't really think about that yet," Maxey told Haynes about where he might go if the 2020 draft was redone. "I just take everything day-by-day. I'm always watching all my draft peers to check up on them and make sure they're doing great. But I'm just glad to be here, honestly. I'm extremely excited when I got drafted and I really do appreciate the organization for giving me this opportunity."
The 21-year-old averaged 17.5 points, 4.3 assists and 3.2 rebounds per game during the 2021-22 season, shooting 48.5 percent from the field, 42.7 percent from three and 86.6 percent from the free-throw line. He is a blur in transition, an excellent finisher at the basket and his dramatic improvement as a shooter—he shot 30.1 percent from three as a rookie—has opened up his half-court scoring.
ALL OUT HUSTLE<br><br>Tyrese Maxey reaches a sprint speed of 18.4 mph to track down and save the ball for the <a href="https://twitter.com/sixers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@sixers</a>, tracked by <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBACourtOptix?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBACourtOptix</a> powered by Microsoft Azure! <a href="https://t.co/jAXhOmYsY4">pic.twitter.com/jAXhOmYsY4</a>
After primarily coming off the bench for the Sixers as a rookie, Maxey started 74 games for the Sixers in the regular season, a necessity when Ben Simmons remained away from the team while he demanded a trade.
If Maxey remains on his current career trajectory, Simmons' decision to not play for the Sixers this past season before he was dealt to Brooklyn might wind up being blessing in disguise in the long term. The extra playing time for the former Kentucky guard revealed a star in the making.
And falling to Philadelphia benefitted Maxey as well. As his agent Rich Paul said to him while he slipped in the draft, "fit over pick."
"He explained that where you're drafted at is more important than the number you're drafted at," Maxey told Haynes. "And I think that really helped me and my mindset. You want to be somewhere where you can play right away, a place where you're in the right system, the right situation with the right type of guys. And Rich knowing me, he knew I liked to win. So I’m thankful to be in a place where I can be competitive and help a team win a championship right away."
So are the Sixers.