The steal in the NBA 2016 draft would definitely be Thon Maker drafted by the Milwaukee Bucks as their 10th overall pick. Thon was projected a drop off in the first round or a late first round pick, but general manager John Hammond took the gamble and drafted a high risk, high reward player. Beyond the youtube reels, Thon is still a mystery to a lot of NBA executives. NBA scouts are unsure if he was really born in 1997 as claimed. They said he look a bit older at 21-23 years old. With a lot of shrouded mystery about how good he really is. You just have to question why he was so eager to jump from high school to the NBA. With just so little to evaluate his true ability.
He was highly recruited back then attending two prep schools then settling in Canada. Instead of going to college he stayed one year more in high school as a post-graduate. Then petitioned the NBA for that reason and was granted eligibility for this draft.
He was avoiding competing with the best college stars or the talented players of his class. He could have played organized basketball in college and develop more his talents. But he was so protected. And people trying to figure him out, came out having more questions than answers.
Prior to the NBA draft, he was demonstrating good agility in drills however, he declined playing five-on-five games. The only barometer would be on the 2015 Nike Hoop Summit with top draftees playing on that game, Ben Simmons, Brandon Ingram and Skal Labissiere. Maker was 0-out of-5 but grabbed 10 rebounds in only 14 minutes. It somehow exposed the type of player he is.
2 years ago, I shared Thon’s video and got a lot of good reviews from my readers. I was excited seeing a 7-foot-1 player who handles the ball pretty well with good court awareness. He can shoot the ball way outside and a good rim protector. He was like Kevin Durant, only a bit taller and athletic.
But it still lingers up and until now if he is really that good.
Way back in 2013, John Hammond took a risk and drafted on an unknown international prospect in Giannis Antetokounmpo. Many wondered if that was the right pick, but Hammond gambled and has paid off pretty well. Can we say that on Thon Maker?
Like I said when we figured him out… we came out having more questions than answers.