Sunday, May 1, 2016

In the Spotlight: Thon Maker

Thon Maker
7’1, 225 lbs
Class: High School 5th year Senior 
Position: Power Forward / Center
School: Athlete Institute Basketball Academy
Wingspan: 7’4
Reach: 9’3
Age: 19.3 (Born: February, 25th 1997)



Strengths:

  • Good size and versatility for an NBA 4/5 - at 7’1 – with 9’3 reach 
  • Strong focus throughout game… Serious demeanor. Competes hard regardless of game (seen in AAU, All-Star game, HS game) … Gives up his body, dives on floor 
  • Appears coachable - multiple possessions communicated with coaches and always comes across attentive and receptive 
  • Upside – Good combination of raw offensive skills, nimbleness, and athleticism combined with a high energy level for a 7-foot center. 
  • Very active offensively – light on his feet. He has a quick second jump. Can finish above the rim, off penetration, or on break
  • Runs the floor well for a 5… looks to beat opposing bigs down court, for easy buckets. 
  • Shooting Potential – While lacking any real consistency, he does display range that extends out to 3… Able to hit off the catch and shoot when given room, and has ability to transition into spot shooter moving off the pick-n-roll. Shown glimpses of hitting off the bounce, even a step back jumper, but it seldom comes within a good offensive possession.
  • Can handle the ball well for someone his size… although he’s rarely going North / South, with all his over dribbling.
  • Defensive Potential
      • Sees the ball and does a good job quickly rotating to come over from weak side… covers good ground defensively… can contest at rim (good timing), but not a true rim protector 
      • Pick n Roll D – Hedges well and recovers, can switch and contain, or use length to trap


Weaknesses:
  • No real upper or lower body strength… lacks a real base to hold ground defensively, or solidify position on offense. Also, struggles to play through contact. Body seems naturally lanky, so I imagine he will struggle to put on muscle mass 
  • When creating offense, it usually results in low percentage looks. He struggles to get separation from defender, or clean look within the ½ court offense, unless it comes off penetration. 
      • Lacking any true back to the basket game… relies on - righty jump hook. Often times, when playing in post, he ends up off balanced or fading from the hoop as a result of defender using strength to disrupt his flow… he struggles to maintain his foot work within the paint… He needs to develop more polish offensively, resulting in higher percentage offense
  • Shooting mechanics need continued development and refinement. He gets good extension, maintains decent balance, but one leg is typically in front of the other and his release is still too slow, as he goes through his shooting routine. 
  • Average explosion despite being a pretty good athlete 
  • Poor rebounder for size, as result of relying on athleticism, lacking strength, not sealing opposition (does go after the ball)
  • Tough to play as 5 in a small lineup… not enough of a presence as last line of defense. Needs another bigger body in paint, protecting basket, working on glass.
  • Never really consistently dominated weak competition (when witnessed in HS and AAU game against below average opposition) – and he’s 19, so he’s typically been matched up against younger players.


Overall:

Maker’s not someone who’s going to step in and provide meaningful minutes. In fact, his development may extend for multiple years and take him straight to the developmental league, before ever seeing the floor.

Maker is the wireframe of a guy who can become an effective NBA player. The size, the skill level, the athleticism, the coordination, the motor, the willingness to learn, the belief in himself, all at 7’1 – he’s got a little bit of it all… and while he doesn’t blow you away in any one area, he does partially check many boxes. Which is a good and bad thing.

On one hand, he’s well rounded. And his upside is higher than similar draft prospects (i.e. Cheick Diallo). But on the other hand, there’s no one area Maker shows so much potential (i.e. rim protector), that you can see him contributing in a short time horizon. Whereas more singularly focused players, bring a skill and as they evolve that skill, they can earn minutes in the rotation. With Maker, it’s more of a boom or bust scenario.

So where do you play Thon?

Center - While on paper, the idea of using Thon to go small and spread the court would be compelling, he’s a long way from being able to play the 5, in a smaller lineup. He’s not nearly a good enough rebounder, he’d struggle as the last line of defense protecting the basket, and because he lacks any real strength, it would be a real up hill battle to guard bigger 5’s.

Power Forward – Given where he’s at in his offensive development, Maker is still not someone who’s going to expose a smaller 4. In fact, the opposition can guard him with a smaller 4 and not worry that despite his 7’1 size, he’s going to take advantage, because he doesn’t play to his size yet. And on the flip side, Maker guarding a smaller 4, will present more challenges, than you gain.

Until his body and game matures, he’s going to need to be complimented with a bigger 4 or 5, who take on the more physical matchup.

The area I think Maker can evolve at a quicker pace is as a shooter. Despite needing to improve his shooting mechanics and speed up his release, he’s shown initial flashes, from the perimeter. Improving as a shooter, and then being able to play the pick and roll (with improved screening), and pull his defender out of the paint, brings a needed dimension to Maker’s game.

All in all, Maker is intriguing, despite the amount of development needed. He’s very talented and is worth evaluating closely in Pre-Draft workouts, which should greatly impact his draft stock. I’d love to see him matched up with a number of prospects (Stephen Zimmerman, Cheick Diallo, Skal Labissiere), who have similar skill sets and many of whom, are similar in age. As value goes, if Maker starts to slide down in the first round, he warrants consideration, if you are able to swing big.



1 comment:

Ticket said...

No chance he was slipping to second round. Wolves are going to be an interesting team to watch this season.