Orlando Magic NBA Draft Preview: The dark horse prospects to watch

Tyrese Maxey of the Kentucky Wildcats is a promising point guard with lots of work to do. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images)
Tyrese Maxey of the Kentucky Wildcats is a promising point guard with lots of work to do. (Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images) /
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Tyrese Maxey, Kentucky Wildcats

John Calipari’s Kentucky Wildcats teams have started to take on a similar trait as Steve Clifford’s Orlando Magic teams. His teams are young and thrown into the fire early in the season and watch them slowly grow until they are ready to win in March.

Kentucky’s teams always seem to underwhelm despite their young talent level through difficult games early in the season and then overperform when the pressure is on in March.

Kentucky went 25-6 this year, going 9-1 in their final 10 to win the SEC. The Wildcats were going to be a very dangerous team in the NCAA Tournament.

A big part of that turnaround this year came from the development of point guard Tyrese Maxey.

Maxey averaged 14.0 points and 3.2 assists per game for the season, shooting 42.7 percent from the floor. However, in his last 12 games, he averaged 15.5 points per game and 3.5 assists per game, shooting 42.9 percent from the floor.

He stepped up his game in a big way. As a point guard that goes well beyond his statistics.

Maxey does a good job getting in the lane and attacking the basket. He is smart at wedging his way into the lane and finding space. He has deceptive speed that enables him to burst past players or stop and get his shot off.

It is still very much a work in progress though. Much of his game is. Maxey had flashes of brilliance, but he still has a lot of work to do to be a better point guard.

His passing numbers leave a lot to be desired. He averaged only 3.2 assists per game. Maxey was looking for his own points a lot and trying to crash the lane to get there. When it worked, it was brilliant. But it did not work consistently enough to make him rise to the top on a talented Kentucky team.

His shooting consistency needs even more work. He shot worse than 30 percent from beyond the arc. While he can stop and pop from mid-range, his ability to create that shot and make it are inconsistent. There are still some things he needs to iron out on that front.

From there, he will need to make better shot decisions. He often dribbled himself into traps and holes that were increasingly difficult for him to get out of.

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Maxey probably tops off as a replacement-level starter or better suited to run backup units unless he can straighten a lot of this out. The potential in college never fully crystallized for him.