There are few NBA prospects this draft cycle who compare to Thon Maker.
But that didn’t stop VCU’s Melvin Johnson – one of four other prospects who joined Maker for Friday’s Charlotte Hornets pre-draft workout – from trying.
“He’s very Kevin Durant-like,” Johnson said of Maker, comparing the 19-year-old to Oklahoma City’s 6-foot-9 All-Star forward.
There are similarities to Durant. At 7-1, Maker is known for his ball-handling ability and shooting touch.
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However, Maker says he reminds himself of another skillful big man.
“I see myself as more of a modern version of Kevin Garnett,” Maker said of the 40-year-old, who just completed his 21st season in the NBA.
“I can space the floor out a little bit more, like KG used to. But guys, they see some moves and they imagine a Kevin Garnett.”
His game is one thing, but of the two Kevins, Maker’s back story at least more closely resembles Garnett’s.
Garnett, who is 6-11, was chosen No. 5 overall in the 1995 NBA draft straight out of high school. He weighed 215 pounds.
Maker is 225 pounds, fresh out of high school and looks to follow a path similar to Garnett’s by going in the first round out of high school. It hasn’t been done since 2005.
Since 2006, the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement has prohibited the practice of drafting high school players. To be eligible for the draft, a player must be 19 and one year removed from high school.
In Maker’s case, he turned 19 in February and technically graduated from high school in 2015 but remained – or reclassifed to the Class of 2016 – as a post-graduate student at Orangeville Prep in Ontario, Canada.
Maker never committed to a college basketball program. He instead declared for the NBA draft, and the NBA confirmed his eligibilty in mid-April.
At this point, his path to the NBA has been a unique one.
Born in South Sudan, Maker moved to Uganda and then Australia. In Australia, he learned to play basketball. From there, he came to the United States and then Canada to further his playing career.
Draft projections for Maker range from lottery pick to not being chosen at all.
“I’m trying,” he said, “to make a name for myself.”