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NBA Draft 2020: Talking Sixers Draft with Spencer Pearlman

2020 NBA Draft Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Philadelphia 76ers came out of the 2020 NBA Draft with Tyrese Maxey, Isaiah Joe and Paul Reed. While we here at Liberty Ballers have been pretty universally high on the Sixers’ draft haul, I wanted to get an outsider’s perspective. Look no further than Spencer Pearlman, one of my favorite draft analysts in the game.

Pearlman is the Director of Scouting for S.A.C. Sports Family and previously served as a Draft Consultant for the Phoenix Suns. His work can be found at the Stepien, where he’s written up scouting reports on Tyrese Maxey and Isaiah Joe, among many other prospects. You can find him on Twitter @SKPearlman. Below, my questions are in bold with Spencer’s answers following.

The big pick of the night for the Philadelphia 76ers was Tyrese Maxey. Where was Maxey on your board and what are your thoughts on him as a prospect?

Maxey was somewhere in my third tier. I had a weird board though relative to others where my first tier was just LaMelo, then it was a few guys, then tier 3 started around 6/7. Basically, it was a great value pick.

As a prospect, I liked his finishing a lot, bought the shot (just needs to lift the form and stop shooting out), and loved the defense/fire/competitiveness. I have concerns regarding his playmaking, but Philly is a great fit in that he can play off Simmons and not have to create for others that much. Ideally his playmaking improves and he is able to play on-ball more in the halfcourt as a playmaker instead of a play-finishing 2, but that’s a long-term development hope for him. Basically, improve PnR to where it becomes a viable option because he can attack off the catch now.

The obvious concern for some Sixers fans with Tyrese Maxey is his 29.2% 3PT through 31 games at Kentucky. I’ve read some analysts argue the concern is overblown. Are you buying or selling Maxey’s jumper?

I’m buying it. He’s got fantastic touch (paint and FT%) and the form is good. The reason the shot had a low percentage was because of the release point — it was blocking his vision and he shot out instead of actually getting arc on the shot. Once he fixes that, he should be good to go.

How do you like the fit of Maxey between Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid? Do you see Maxey developing into a starter?

I like it a lot. He’ll fit in defensively with them given his strength, IQ on & off ball, and versatility (though he’s really only a 2 position defender in pinches — would not want him defending true 2 scorers like Derozan yet), and can fit on offense if the shot comes. He played heavily off-ball in Kentucky running off screens (mainly in the midrange), so he has comfortability there as well. He really just has to expand on the range (and improve the percentages) and he’ll be good to go.

I can see Maxey developing into a starter.

Before the draft, there were reports that the Sixers promised Isaiah Joe, leading some to believe Philly would take him 21st. He ended up falling to Philly at 49th. Was this the right range for Joe or did the Sixers get a steal so late in the 2nd round?

I think they got a steal. He’s one of the best shooters in the class and a legitimately good and smart off-ball defender. He has to get stronger, but there’s solid defensive potential there as well.

John Hollinger is head-over-heels for Paul Reed, calling him a lottery pick hiding in plain sight. And yet, he was passed on 57 times. How do you assess Paul Reed’s likelihood of becoming a rotation player in the NBA and what’s the path for him to get there based on his skill set?

Completely disagree with Hollinger’s Reed analysis, but I do think there’s a good chance Reed ends up a nice rotation player. The key with him are the following: 1) improve IQ; 2) expand range and improve as a shooter.

The IQ thing is interesting because though you see the high STOCK numbers, a lot of it was just him using his length. Obviously you cannot ignore that, but he was often caught out of position…so that’s where the IQ improvements have to come in — as the back end of the defense, you need to always be on point. Just be consistent here and locked in. If that happens, with his tools and functional length, that’s a good defensive big.

The shooting is pretty self-explanatory. He does a nice job attacking closeouts and can finish in the paint with both hands, so the shot coming would really make him a threat on offense besides just being a paint finisher.

Last time we spoke, you had mentioned that you liked the fit of Desmond Bane with the Sixers. He was on the board at no. 21. Do you feel the Sixers made a mistake passing on Bane for Maxey?

Given the 76ers’ championship window, yeah, I do. That’s not to say that Maxey won’t be a good player in his own right, but the 6ers needed shooting — Des provides that in spades. He’d also help with half court creation with his PnR ability and a bit more defensive versatility given his size/strength. I think Des would have been someone who could come in and fill immediate needs on both ends for Philly.

Overall, how do you grade the Sixers’ draft haul?

I’d probably give it an A- (maybe an A? This could be one of those 92.49 instances where if you round up, it’s a 92.5 and an A but if you don’t it’s an A-).

Even though I would have taken Des with their first pick, taking Maxey is understandable given his fall a bit outside where he was projected to go and I still like his game a lot. Joe was a great value pick at 49, so that was just great. He just has to stay healthy and get a bit stronger, but if he does, he’ll be looked at as one of those “he shouldn’t have fallen” guys from this draft. Reed was another good value pick. He should have gone higher for sure, so taking him at the end of the second was great value. Work on the shot and the defensive consistency and that’s another steal.

A big thank you to Spencer for taking time out of his day to answer my questions. Don’t forget to give him a follow on Twitter, where he’s consistently putting out draft and NBA content like the following:

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