NEW YORK While there was no suspense when Ben Simmons was selected first overall by the Philadelphia 76ers, another Australian taken in the top 10 turned out to be the surprise pick of the NBA draft.
The Milwaukee Bucks sent a buzz throughout Barclays Center when they chose Thon Maker, the 19 year old South Sudan native, with the No. 10 overall pick on Thursday night.
“When I walked past most of the guys in the green room, some of the guys looked at me sideways,” Maker said when asked of the reaction by some of his peers who were still waiting to be drafted when Maker’s name was called. “Some of the guys I already knew from high school, so we were like friends. So they were happy and some guys gave me dap.
“And other guys were like, it should be them. I don’t know, if I were in that situation, I would have been like, ‘Congrats.’ You know, you’ve made a step. Now go make a name for yourself.”
Maker is perhaps the most interesting and mysterious name cheap women jerseys
in the draft after taking a staggeringly circuitous route to the NBA with stops in Uganda, Australia, Louisiana, Virginia and Canada. His family fled war torn Sudan when Maker was six.
Maker’s age had been in question entering the draft, but the Bucks opted to add the 7 foot 1, 216 pound power forward. Milwaukee is already one of the youngest teams in the NBA with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker as the two franchise players.
Maker denied rumors about him possibly being older.
“It did get to me in terms of me hearing about it,” Maker said. “But it didn’t get to me personally because if it were true, I’d probably be like sideways about it, but it’s not true, so I’m comfortable. I’m not pissed off or oh, I’m not angry or anything.”
The 7 footer used a loophole to enter this year’s draft; he was able to gain entrance despite not going to college or playing in Europe or Asia. Instead, his camp was able to successfully convince the NBA to see an additional year of prep school in Canada as being a postgraduate year.
He becomes the first teenager since 2005 to be drafted in the first round and leap directly to the pros without a season of college, international or Development League ball.
However, aside from his physical measurables, little is known about Maker’s game.
He declined a chance to play at the NBA combine in Chicago, but participated in drills and exhibited good ball handling and shooting skills for a 7 footer and set records for men 6 11 and over in the standing and max vertical.
“The concern for anyone is no one has ever seen him play,” one scout told ESPN. “. I would say (he’s a risk). The less you get to see, the less information you have, the increased risk you feel like there is.”
Maker is eager to show people what he can do.
“People usually say nowadays that playing hard is the new skill, or having a motor is a new skill,” Maker said. “For me, it was just always having that work ethic and just continuing to work hard. My skills have always been just work on them, and you never know [when] you’re going to use them in the game.
“Things like ball handling because people don’t expect me to be handling the ball, but look at [Draymond] Greenat the [power forward] position with the Warriors. He’s their new guy bringing the ball up, so it takes the pressure off the other guys because you see the 4 sucked into the paint now, and he’s bringing the ball up. . So I feel like I need to work on that a little bit more, and shooting the ball consistently.”