LAS VEGAS –- Thon Maker already is impossible to miss on the floor at 7-foot-1, with a 9-foot-2 standing reach.
But what might really stand out about the Milwaukee Bucks’ latest potential-filled teen prospect with Inspector Gadget-like arms is his tireless energy.
While the Bucks are steering clear of setting expectations or comparing their rookie to any greats, one Bucks coach said strictly speaking from an energy standpoint that Maker’s energy level is “Garnett-like.”
Add on the fact that Maker’s end-to-end speed might rival Giannis Antetokounmpo and it’s no wonder why the Bucks are beaming about the future.
“Flip a coin,” said Bucks assistant coach Sean Sweeney, who coached Milwaukee’s summer league team, when asked if Antetokounmpo or Maker is faster from basket to basket. “They both have long strides, they’re both really fast. Thon has really good feet and can really move.
"To me, that’s a pick ‘em.”
During his first taste of professional basketball, Maker showed glimpses of why the Bucks reached for him at the 10th overall pick. Besides the length and energy, Maker displayed flashes of a multifaceted foundation that will require developing, but is filled with potential.
“There is a reach here, no doubt whatsoever,” said Bucks general manager John Hammond, who knows something about reaching in the first round for young, potential-filled raw prospects such as Antetokounmpo. “We started with [the] criteria [that he’s] a guy that had a great personality and we thought he could be a good fit for us as an organization and we liked his energy.
“We thought he wasn’t afraid and had a little toughness to him,” Hammond added. “That was the key to the draft pick -- that we enjoyed him so much as a person and had toughness and wasn’t afraid. You don’t know what is going to go from there.”
Maker has an engaging and refreshing personality. As for his game, the Bucks have time to be patient with Maker, who joins a roster already built around Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Khris Middleton.
“Team all-length,” Maker says with a laugh when asked about the nickname he coined for the young Bucks.
Maker averaged 14.2 points, 9.6 rebounds, 1.0 blocks and shot 37.7 percent from the field in five summer league games. He hit 6 of 19 3-pointers, even launching some off a move to create space as well. There were times when Maker brought the ball up court after a rebound.
He certainly needs to get stronger and bulk up, but his length did bother some opponents into turning the ball over while trying to make a move to get past Maker or pass it over him when he came over as a help defender.
“Not a lot of people saw my game,” Maker said when asked what he showed at summer league. “I just came here and played hard and played to win at all times. In terms of me playing my game, that will take time. But right now, they are trying to see how long I can play and play hard, just to see if I can stay up to speed.”
Maker says he finds inspiration in seeing how Golden State’s Draymond Green has been able to break some stereotypes as to what a front-court player can and can’t do skill-wise.
“I am always thinking just have all the skill sets down,” Maker said. “You never know when you will use them. Like Draymond Green, they use him both offensively and defensively in many situations. I have to be better so that my team can use me.”
Maker has a long way to go. He’s only 19, after all, unless you are Mark Cuban, who when asked this week during an ESPN telecast what he thought about Maker cracked, “You know, for a 40-year-old, he can still play.”
The Dallas owner was joking in light of pre-draft speculation over how old Maker actually is. The Bucks, though, will be the ones with the last laugh if Maker develops as quickly as he can get down the court.
“His ability to sprint ... I don’t know anything about 800 [meter] runners, but he reminds me of an 800 runner,” Sweeney said.
Maker, who was born in Sudan before leaving the war-torn country when he was 6 years old, isn’t sure if he can beat Antetokounmpo. After all, the "Greek Freak" needs only a few strides to make it from one rim to the other.
But Maker doesn’t lack confidence in his speed.
“I am always thinking that I am the fastest guy on earth,” Maker said. “But I have never been on the floor with these guys, so we will see [who is faster between himself and Antetokounmpo].
“[But] running is nothing.”