Thon Maker is going straight from high school to the NBA. Sort of.
The NBA is good with it, ruling Thursday that Maker met the requirements of the Collective Bargaining Agreement to be draft eligible. ESPN’s Chad Ford broke the story, since confirmed by the league.
To be draft eligible a player has to meet two requirements:
1) Be at least 19 the calendar year of the draft. Maker is already 19.
2) One NBA season had to have taken place since the player graduated from high school. Maker graduated from high school last year, but then chose to go to a prep school in Canada for a fifth year rather than go to college.
Being draft eligible and being draft ready are two different things. Maker has a lot of potential — he’s 7’1″ with a 7’3″ standing reach and he plays more like a point forward than a traditional big.
But he is raw. Not sushi raw, I mean just pulling it off the fish-hook raw, which is why teams consider him a second rounder (maybe some team takes him late in the first, but don’t bet on it). I saw Maker play in person more than a year ago at Adidas Nations, and you can see the potential in his game — he could be a big who fits with the way the NBA is trending — but he was so skinny and so incredibly raw that it was too early to say just how good he could ultimately be. When I bounced that impression off an NBA scout recently, the response was “not much has changed.”
“It’s easy to see why some people instantly like him due to his size, 7’0, with an over 7’3 wingspan, as well as his the energy he plays with on the floor. Still, even though he looks like he has added some weight and strength, his frame still has a long way to go if it’s going to fill out. Even if his name has been known and lauded by many at the high school level, his game has never come close to matching the hype. Though he often has a big size advantage in the low post, he rarely dominates, especially when matched up against other high-level high school players. He can also knock down mid- and long-range jumpers, though the consistency isn’t there yet, and while Maker is a decent ballhandler for his size, he’ll often try to force drives right into the defense. Maker is at his best when he can get out in run the floor in transition, usually heading straight to the rim for a lob pass. Even if he continues to develop his skills on both ends of the floor, his understanding of the game is still way behind. He will be a project for any NBA team that picks him, and I don’t know if he’ll ever meet the early hype on him.”