Sam Presti is basically set on draft picks for the foreseeable future.
With 18 future first-rounders on the books over the next seven years alone, Presti’s OKC Thunder can pretty much move as they please in the draft, the free agency, and to acquire star players who become available if they fit alongside Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and their young core.
Gosh, could you imagine playing Tyrese Maxey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in the same backcourt? Fortunately for fans in South Philly, we won’t get to see that happening, much to the chagrin of Sam Presti.
The Philadelphia 76ers should be very pleased with their 2020 first-round pick.
When the Philadelphia 76ers traded Markelle Fultz for OKC’s top-20 protected first-round pick in 2020 and a second-round pick in 2019 and Jonathan Simmons, it left a bitter taste in many a fan’s mouth.
Sure, the decision to move on from Fultz was a necessary one, as his cap hit was deceptively large and his time with the team looked like it’d long overstayed its welcome, but to say goodbye to the player who was supposed to round out the team’s Big 3 for pennies on the dollar sort of stunk.
Fast forward to the modern-day NBA, and the deal looks like one of the better moves of the Elton Brand-era.
While the other Simmons was sort of a non-factor and is currently out of the league entirely, the second-round pick was traded alongside the team’s own 2019 first-rounder to secure the draft rights to Matisse Thybulle, the best University of Washington guard in the NBA (don’t @ me), and that first-round pick, which ultimately conveyed, was used to select Tyrese Maxey, who has shown out pretty darn well as the team’s starting point guard through three games.
Landing a starting point guard at pick 21 is pretty darn good value, especially when he can play a pretty darn similar game to the player he was drafted to replace.
Like pre-injury Fultz, Maxey is a speedy combo guard who can score in a number of ways. He has great court vision, doesn’t turn the ball over too often, and theoretically has the potential to round out his offensive game as a passer once he fully feels comfortable with the legion of plus shooters who surround him seemingly every time he takes the court.
Unlike Fultz, Maxey is actually putting up 3 pointers, even if they don’t fall at that that much more efficient of a clip, and he’s improved his game notably from Year 1 to 2, which didn’t quite happen with his counterpart selected 20 picks higher in 2017. Give him a few more years to really get his NBA footing, and Maxey might be the sort of drive-first point guard who frequents Sportscaster highlight reels for years to come.
And to think, Maxey could have been a member OKC Thunder instead, where his style of play would have perfectly complemented Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in a very Amy Fadool-approved all-Kentucky backcourt.
You know, if I lost a player like that on a dagger from Mike Muscala, I’d probably trade away Chris Paul and go all-in on a Process-style rebuild; I mean heck, who wouldn’t?
All jokes aside, if the OKC Thunder really wanted to draft Tyrese Maxey, they could have picked him 17th overall instead of Aleksej Pokusevski, and the Philadelphia 76ers would have instead had to pick a player like Desmond Bane four picks later, but fortunately, that isn’t how things went down. No. The Sixers secured their potential point guard of the future thanks to a pick swapped around the NBA from OKC to Philadelphia to Orlando and back to Philadelphia, and that, my friends, is a beautiful thing. Thanks again, Mike Muscala!