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Is Thon Maker The Next Kristaps Porzingis?

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With the NBA Draft just a little over two short months away, Thon Maker has decided to make himself eligible for selection. The only problem is, he’s only 19 years old and still in high school. During the late 90’s and early 2000s players like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Garnett would forgo their college experience and go straight into the NBA. Those three have all had long, All-Star/Hall of Fame careers, but not everyone who makes that huge jump has the same luck. Players like Eddie Curry and Kwame Brown were both selected in the top 5 of the 2001 Draft, but failed to live up to the expectations of the teams who risked taking them. Curry would only average 12.9 points and 5.2 rebounds in his 11 year career, most of being spent on losing teams. Kwame Brown was dubbed “The Next Big Thing” by Michael Jordan before being taken then by his Washington Wizards with the #1 overall pick. Brown also spent 11 years in the NBA, suiting up for 7 different teams. Averaging only 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, he is considered one of the biggest draft busts of all time. In 2005, the NBA instituted a rule that said to be eligible to declare for the draft, a player must be at least 19 years of age and be one year removed from high school. Maker only fits into one of those categories.

For the last few years, Maker has spent his time playing basketball in Canada at Orangeville Prep High School. He is considered one of the top prospects in this years draft. The NBA will likely try to block him from entering the draft, even though Maker will use his post-graduate year in Canada as leverage against them. Maker spent his 5th year in high school this year, after reportedly graduating in June of 2015. The 7’1” Guard/Forward was scheduled to participate in this years Nike Hoop Summit located in Portland, but decided to pull out from the competition to focus on his skills and getting fully prepared for June’s upcoming draft. With the height of a center and the skill set of a shooting guard and small forward, he has already had comparisons made to Kevin Garnett and Kevin Durant. Many scouts have claimed he isn’t ready to play in the NBA, lacking strength to post up larger players in the NBA and grab rebounds at the next level. Having a great handle and the ability to pull up from 3 point range, Maker has potential to cause problems for defenders in the league.

Kristaps Porziņģis faced the similar ridicule before being taken 4th overall by the New York Knicks in last years draft. Even being booed by the crowd in the Barclays Center after having his named called. Long time ESPN reporter Steven A. Smith, avid Knicks fan, was extremely disappointed in the pick of Porziņģis. Criticizing New York’s president Phil Jackson saying, “He’s lucky if Melo hasn’t called and asked to be traded”. Exclaiming that the Knicks needed a player who was NBA ready, not someone who would need 5 years to develop into a star. To the delight of all Knick fans, Smith included, Porziņģis has had a breakout rookie season. Himself and Timberwolves rookie center Karl-Anthony Towns are going at it for Rookie of the Year Honors. The similarities in Porziņģis’ game and Maker’s is undeniable. Both are listed at above 7,’ have decent ball handling skills and are a three point threat even at their height. But both have too work on their post game, which will require hitting the gym to gain strength and get in valuable time practicing with coaches on working things out. With the draft approaching rapidly, Thon Maker will continue to make his push to gain eligibility and hear his named called. These questions still remain, will he be deemed eligible by the NBA? And if so, who will be the team to take the 7’1” sensation with hopes of him becoming the next NBA phenom? Keep an eye out for more info on Thon Maker in the upcoming weeks.

About Emanuel Godina

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