Sixers Guard on Heat Skipping Over Him in 2020 Draft: ‘You Never Forget’

Tyrese Maxey

Getty Tyrese Maxey #0 of the Philadelphia 76ers dribbles up the court against the Miami Heat in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Semifinals at FTX Arena on May 04, 2022.

There’s already a lot of tension heading into Game 6 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Miami Heat (3-2) and the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday, May 12, but Sixers guard Tyrese Maxey has added fuel to the rivalry.

In addition to the threat of the Heat ending the Sixers’ postseason with a win on Thursday night, Maxey is still not over Miami passing over him during the 2020 NBA Draft. The Heat, already laden with guards, selected forward Precious Achiuwa with their No. 20 overall pick, while Maxey slipped to No. 21, drafted by the Sixers.

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In an interview with Yahoo! Sports Chris Haynes, which was published Thursday morning, the Kentucky alum sounded off on the Heat and two other teams for choosing other players before him.

“I thought Miami would take me at No. 20,” Maxey said. “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.”

In the 21-year-old’s mind, he expected to be taken as high as No. 11, and join the San Antonio Spurs.

“Miami, Orlando, and San Antonio. Those were the three teams I thought would draft me,” Maxey continued. “When I started slipping, I was upset, but I kept reminding myself that my dream of getting drafted was coming true.”

While Maxey Is Thriving With the Sixers, Achuiwa Was Traded After His Rookie Season

The Spurs drafted guard Devin Vessell in 2020, while the Orlando Magic selected guard Cole Anthony with their No. 15 overall pick. However, Maxey is having a breakout season with the Sixers in his sophomore year in the NBA, so it seems landing in Philadelphia was the perfect match for him.

During the regular season, Maxey averaged 17.5 points per game while shooting 42.7% on threes. The young guard is performing even better in the playoffs thus far, averaging 20.8 points per game in the postseason.

As for Achuiwa, his tenure with the Heat turned out to be brief. In order to bring Kyle Lowry to Miami this past offseason, Miami completed a sign-and-trade with the Raptors that sent Achiua and veteran point guard Goran Dragic to Toronto.

Achiuwa is getting a ton of more playing time with the Raptors, and thriving with his new team. Sports Illustrated’s Raptors reporter Aaron Rose called the 6-foot-8, 220-pounds forward the team’s “most improved player” this season.

The Heat are Struggling to Win on the Road in Philadelphia

The Heat return to the Wells Fargo Center on Thursday night which gives the Sixers a bit of an edge. While the Heat have been perfect during the playoffs at home, they’ve struggled on the road.

The Sixers absolutely blew the Heat out in Games 3 and 4 in Philadelphia, but head coach Erik Spoelstra says the team has learned a lot from those losses.

“When you’re in this seat, you always think that,” Spoelstra said, per Sun Sentinel’s Ira Winderman. “When you’re probably on their side, they’re probably thinking something other. And that’s what the playoffs are all about. Momentum doesn’t necessarily carry over.

“But we have great habits. This is not just exclusive to this series. It’s been weeks and months of building different habits on figuring out how to win games. And when you have to, win on the road. And this is a great environment.”

Following the morning shootaround on Thursday, “Urgency is there,” Spoelstra added. “You have to play well, also. This is what it’s about in the playoffs.”

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