Fresh off Summer League action, we take a look at what Thon Maker brings to the court
By: Bill Tewes
As Milwaukee’s first Summer League game wraps up, we finally get a glimpse of what Thon Maker is capable of against NBA level “talent”. The 19-year-old started for Milwaukee against Cleveland’s squad and showed flashes of real potential.
Maker hit a nice jumper from just inside the 3-point line and drew a foul just past the half way mark in the second quarter. Maker then missed his free throw, but got his own rebound and scored, netting four points in about five seconds. Maker finished with 15 points on 5/14 shooting and grabbed 13 boards netting him a double-double and also had two blocks. Maker grabbed a nice offensive rebound with less than 20 seconds left to help seal a win for the Bucks 81-75 over Cleveland.
I think back to draft night and how I felt after the 10th pick was announced. As I sat in a small room with two friends watching the NBA draft, I was nervous as I usually am about the Bucks when it comes to their pick. Any Bucks fan will tell you that draft night is always a situation wrought with anxiety and sometimes even frustration immediately after the pick is announced.
Truth be told, I sank to my knees when I heard Maker’s name announced by Adam Silver. Right before Milwaukee’s pick, Jay Bilas suggested the Bucks could realistically take Maker at 10 and Chad Ford even mocked Maker at that spot in his final mock draft. It is interesting to see what happened after Milwaukee picked Maker. Players such as Taurean Prince, Georgios Papagiannis, Juan Hernangomez and Guerschon Yabusele all went much higher than vast majority of experts thought they would. So perhaps as crazy as it might sound, John Hammond might have set off a trend by selecting Maker at 10.
The most obvious and constantly discussed concern with Maker is his actual age. Rumors have been swirling that Maker is actually closer to 23 years of age as opposed to his stated age of 19 years. If Maker turns out to be closer to 23, it will most certainly be a devastating blow and yet another pick that may go down as a complete bust for the organization. My major concern with Maker being 23, is that the level of competition he has played against has been exclusively high school kids. While his highlights certainly are impressive, they are clearly less impressive if he is significantly older than his competition.
After reading his Draft Express profile, it is definitely concerning that scouts are afraid Maker might not be able to put on enough muscle to be competitive in the NBA. Even though the league is clearly in the middle of the Small-Ball era, a 7’ 1” center who weighs 215 pounds is going to get thrashed in the paint.
Watching this YouTube video is enough to prove that Hammond was super high on Maker. They loved his work ethic and are seemingly sold on his measurables and potential to be an NBA starter as well as impact player on this team.I think the reason I despise this pick the most, is that Maker was selected at 10 instead of later in the draft. It is hard to say if the Bucks could have traded back and still picked up Maker, or if Hammond was that enamored with him that there was no other option but to take him. The NBA draft is a perhaps the most difficult draft to pick players from as it is far from certain that a team will get even a role player in the lottery. The Bucks must know more about Maker as they passed on local talent Henry Ellenson and a slew of other picks that would have made sense for the Bucks.
The intrigue is there for Maker and he certainly has the tools to put it all together. But how long will it take for Maker to become NBA ready and end up contributing to a potential Eastern Conference Finals run for Milwaukee? And if Maker is 23, it certainly sours what is currently a fun and exciting pick for Milwaukee.