Thon Maker is a member of the social media and mixtape culture. Starting from when he was just an 8th grader to now in the NBA. On various YouTube pages, courtesy of the websites view count filter, there are at least four videos regarding Maker with over a million views and peaking at 2.3 million. From his last year in middle school to a Christmas vacation battle with Harry Giles in 2015, Maker’s development has been chronicled via the internet.
It’s what got people curious and mysterious as to who he was, only to figure out he’s the real deal. And if you’re Kevin Garnett, you’d envision Maker having MVP potential. Since last season the two have been in touch after Garnett attended a Bucks practice, courtesy of head coach Jason Kidd introducing the two.
“When he first came to the practice facility,” said Maker to CLNS.” They were like ‘you know, this guy is built like him. It’ll be good if they introduce and talk and just see what’s going on through his mind.’ So, I was like ‘alright,’ so I went over and said hello to him and we started working out. His relationship with J-Kidd, playing together on the Olympics team and playing against him in the league made this relationship possible.”
Both Maker and Garnett support skinny frames at around seven-feet tall with great athleticism and the ability to space the floor when needed. The two both went the prep-to-pro route, and raised headlines when they did so due to the rarity of the action. Now they’re together in the mold of a mentor and mentee type of relationship.
“My relationship with him is I can hit him up whenever I need to ask him about something,” Maker said. “If it’s a certain move I like or if it’s something I need to work on, then I can hit him up whenever. Also, to ask him if I’m involved in a certain situation on the court and knowing he’s been through it I can just hit him up. He’s always available and he’s always responding. It’s great to have him around.”
In due time, with proper development, Maker does see himself fulfilling Garnett’s thought of becoming a candidate for MVP in the future.
“It’ll take some time,” Maker said. “But I’m willing to put in the work.”
During Maker’s rookie campaign, he showed flashes of becoming a good player in the league, and now, in his sophomore season, Kidd has increased his playing time from 9.9 a year ago to 18.5.
With the Bucks, Maker’s offense comes behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe, Khris Middleton and Jabari Parker once he returns from his ACL injury. Maker’s game is a work in progress, and the Bucks aren’t pressuring him to play like a superstar right now. The organization has let their players develop over time being patient, and the same applies for Maker who was a toss-up in the 2016 NBA Draft in regards to where he’d be selected.
Since Maker didn’t actually attend college or play overseas, he’s technically viewed as a prep-to-pro prospect. The first one since the “one year removed high school graduation” rule was implemented by the league in 2005.
He was able to take advantage of a loophole due to him graduating from Canada’s Orangeville (Ontario) in 2015 and then doing a post-grad year the following year at the Athlete Institute of Ontario.
The former 5-star recruit had numerous high division one offers from the likes of Kansas, Kentucky and Arizona State. If he had gone to college and went the one-and-done route, he likely would’ve been a lottery pick as he was in 2016 when the Bucks surprised many people and used their No. 10 pick on the 7-foot-1 center.
Despite not attending college, Maker is in favor of the league keeping the ‘one-and-done’ rule.
“I feel like they should keep it the way it is,” said Maker. “If a guy is good enough, go ahead. The NBA’s going to do what’s best for the NBA. If it’s something that’s going to help them grow as a league every single year, they’ll definitely go with it. If it’s keeping it the way it is, then they’re going to do it. If its maybe having them go through the G League or something like that, they’ll go with it. So, it’s whatever is going to help the NBA. Something that’s going to keep the younger guys developed and come in ready.”
There have been discussions of the NBA getting rid of the one year removed high school graduation rule, which would once again allow players to enter the draft upon graduation. The rule that was once used sporadically, will likely be used by players who have a large body of work and don’t need college. Marvin Bagley lll, Michael Porter Jr., and DeAndre Ayton are a few players that most likely would’ve been first-round picks out of high school in 2016.