John Hammond is really enjoying his post Herb Kohl era as the Milwaukee Bucks general manager. You suppress a man’s freedom for so many years and he tries to make up for it on the other end. Hammond takes another home run swing on Thon Maker with the tenth pick in the NBA. Thon is the first high school player selected in the draft since Amir Johnson back in 2005. Maker comes into the league at 7’1” weighing 216 pounds, with a 7’3” wingspan.
Early on draft day, rumors broke that teams around the league were questioning Makers age very similarly to fellow Sudanese NBA baller Bismack Biyombo back in 2011. Thon’s alleged date of birth is February 25, 1997. The rumor said teams believed he could be as old as 21-24. The basis of this rumor as far as I can tell? He’s from Sudan. The other side of the argument was made by draft express stating that he went through the natural development of a 15 year old becoming a 19 year old the past four years. He’s gained roughly 35 pounds, while still looking like a stick. Seems par for the course of most teenagers. Maker was accepted by Australia as a refugee when he was five years old along with his little brother and cousin. This is where Thon would have lied, or not known about his age. His younger brother, Matur Maker, is another respected basketball talent who was born 11 months after Thon on January 1st, 1998. It would be incredibly hard to pass off two brothers who were 7 and 8 years old as if they were four and five years old. The difference physically between five and eight are huge.
The other questioned moment when he may have lied about his age was when he was 14 and came over to Canada from Australia to play high school ball. He had a record of when his birthday was by now, in the major country of Australia. I just can’t conceive how they would pull off losing three years of his life at this point in his life. He was on the grid by now! It’d be very hard to forge the records between Australia and Canada.
As for the production we can expect out of Thon, well that really varies. His play style could go in a few very different routes. He may come in and fully understand his role and put most of his energy towards blocking shots, fighting for rebounds, and making hustle plays to keep the momentum going in the Bucks favor. That formula is probably the way he makes the most positive impact he can his rookie season, but having never played against this level of competition, he may not understand how strong his skill set really is at this point in his career. He’s got a ton of talent, but he may not fully understand his worth in the NBA yet.
The Thon Maker pick is all about upside, we could have picked a more polished big man at ten, but no one with the upside Thon brings to the table. He has the talent to be one of the most versatile centers in the league, with the potential to become a center hitting jumpers from three point range. Any center that has the potential to block your shot, gather the rebound, and take the ball himself coast to coast to make a play for himself or his teammates is impossible not to understate, especially when you reiterate that he has range on his jump shot as well. Thon is a risky pick, but he has a lot of talent and the competitive drive to become something in this league.
Since Thon has never competed at any level near the NBA, it’s very possible his career trajectory ends very quickly. He’s very skinny and doesn’t have the greatest feel for the game yet, so he could find himself getting pushed out of his defensive position a lot throughout his career. His greatest attribute to the Bucks is his ability to protect the rim. If he can’t do that, I’m not sure he’s playable in our system, without a lot of improvement to his offensive game anyway. He has a high potential and a low floor. If I had to bet, I’m betting on him ending up near his potential and becoming a huge part of Milwaukee Bucks basketball. Here’s to hoping it’s a pleasure to pull for the kid.
For more on Thon, read our scouting report on him here.