While most of the attention on the Lakers this draft season stem from them holding the #2 overall pick, the team also holds the #32 selection in the upcoming draft. With that, we will be having a series of posts on potential options for that selection. This installment looks at the mysterious high schooler, Thon Maker.
Power Forward/Center, 7’0.75″, 216 lbs. High School, 19 years old
21.3 points, 48.0 field goal percentage, 78.0 free throw percentage, 1.7 assists, 13.3 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 4.2 blocks (Stats are from his sophomore year in H.S. Maker’s Canadian prep-shool stats from 2015-16 stats are unavailable.)
Big Board Rankings:
Draft Express – 40, CBS – 32, Sports Illustrated – 25, Sporting News — 18, ESPN (Chad Ford) — 19
Thon Maker is a name that people have known for awhile now because of a famous mixtape of him that was put on YouTube a few years ago. Through most of his high school career, he was considered the number one prospect, but he found a loophole to get him into the draft without going to college or going overseas. No one really knows a whole lot about Maker right now because there isn’t much tape of him, and he’s only doing workouts with teams. This makes him hard to evaluate.
What we do know about Thon Maker is that he is almost 7’1 with a wingspan of 7’3. His measurables alone make him an intriguing prospect. He’s currently too skinny and not strong enough to play center in the NBA, so his height and wingspan will really help him guard power forwards in the NBA. While he’s extremely thin, he has a great work ethic, which will hopefully lead to him gaining more muscle in the first couple years of his career.
“Maker, who did complete the measurable assessments at the combine, set records for men 6-11 and over in the standing and max vertical. He was near the top among big men in the three-quarter sprint drill and shuttle run,” according to a recent ESPN article. He’s athletic and should be able to run the floor on the fast break.
With a guy as big as Maker is, it’s not normal to have a shooting stroke like he does. He can knock down threes already, which would really help the spacing for any team. His shot will help him in pick-n-pop situations. He should be able to get his shot up against smaller defenders, but his play may be limited to midrange and further out. He has a decent handle, but it’s nothing too special.
Once again, with his size, Maker shows potential on the defensive side of the ball. He’s been talking to an NBA coach and learning about defenses, so hopefully that pays off. Right now, the only good thing about Maker on defense is his wingspan and height. Because of his strength and weight, he’s going to really struggle against bigger guys especially if trying to anchor in the post or when guys with a lower center of gravity get into his body on dribble penetration.
There are a lot more weaknesses than strengths when it comes to the kid out of high school. DraftExpress has him at 47.5% on two-pointers, which is not great for a guy his size against the competition he was facing. DX also has him at a 16.4 turnover percentage, and he’s not good at finding teammates to begin with. He doesn’t really have a post game, so if he goes against an average defender in the NBA with size, Maker is really going to struggle. His jumpshot, while not bad, is also not always as consistent as it needs to be as his main source of offense.
Once again, weight and bulk are really going to hurt Maker, this time on the defensive side of the ball. At just 216 pounds (according to the NBA Combine), he’s going to get bullied by the pros. James Harden, for instance, is only 6’5 but weighs 225 pounds. Maker is seven inches taller and weighs less. Dwyane Wade is 6’4 and 220. Someone like Anthony Davis who came in around the same weight and now weighs 240 gives a glimmer of hope, but he’s really going to have to work on it by getting on the right kind of diet and getting after it in the weight room.
As far as defending the ball and in pick-n-roll situations, Thon isn’t great at it and is going to have to put more time into that as well. He doesn’t have great instincts.
Where he fits in with the Lakers:
This young man is really hard to evaluate. It’s difficult just finding his high school stats, let alone video of him playing against other teams that isn’t a highlight reel or mixtape. The 19-year-old has a lot of potential, but it could take a long time to see it. He’s way too skinny, doesn’t have a great offensive game, doesn’t pass much and turns the ball over, doesn’t have a great defensive mindset, and isn’t strong enough. On the positive side, he does have a high motor and, by all accounts is willing to work hard both on and off the court.
If the Lakers were to draft Thon Maker, they would have to wait a while for him to even come close to his potential. He’s a guy who wants to be in the gym all day, and he’s going to have to be if he wants to make an impact soon. He’s a high risk/high reward player, and he could end up being a nice floor spacer for the Lakers if he develops the way scouts think he can. There are so many other guys with known NBA strengths and weaknesses that they can pick here, but if they’re willing to be patient with him, Thon Maker could eventually help the Lakers.