Five-star 19-year-old forward Thon Maker eligible for 2016 NBA Draft

The NBA has made its decision regarding Thon Maker.

The NBA has decided that Maker is indeed eligible for the 2016 NBA Draft, CBS Sports has learned through the league office. It determined that the 19-year-old Maker graduated high school in 2015 and did a preparatory year in 2016, making him one year removed from high school and thus eligible for the draft by league rules.

ESPN was first to report this news.

Maker had been considering attending college, but after learning that he could be eligible for the draft decided to declare and attempt to try his luck with the NBA last weekend. The NBA has now answered his call, and will allow him to avail himself within the NBA Draft process.

Maker is going to be an interesting prospect to track through the pre-draft process. The hype Maker received throughout high school as one of the top players in his class due to fun mixtapes does not necessarily translate to him having as high a draft stock as many would expect.

Currently, Maker is No. 23 on the CBS Sports NBA Draft Big Board. The Australian national has a lot of skills that would seem tailor-made for today’s NBA, but also has some pretty major question marks. On one hand, Maker is a good shot-blocker and, at 7-foot-1 with a 9-3 standing reach, has the size and length to play the center position in the NBA. Plus, he can also handle the ball well for a 7-footer, and knock down 3-pointers (although his shot needs to continue to be worked on as it can be a bit flat and quite mechanical). That package of skills would seem perfect for today’s NBA, where floor-spacing and rim protection are so valuable.

However, there are some pretty major concerns regarding Maker’s body and basketball IQ. First and foremost, his game is still quite raw at this stage, and it would take a couple of years of physical and mental development for him to be able to play in an NBA game. His frame is still remarkably skinny, and needs work as it holds him back from playing as physically as he would like to inside. Second, his hands are quite small, and it hinders him in the way that he catches and controls the ball in traffic, both in the post and in rebounding situations. Finally, Maker seems to have a bit of a low feel for the game, as he isn’t necessarily the most instinctual player on the floor in the way he attacks the glass or rotates defensively. Part of that could be youth, but it could also just simply be his reactionary skill being a bit slow.

Clearly, Maker is going to be a major question mark entering workouts. Simply put, Maker may have the most volatile stock of any NBA Draft prospect in the last decade. Some scouts believe that with strong workouts and interviews, Maker could work his way into the second half of the lottery in this weak draft. Others believe that his game is simply too far away from contributing — if he ever will — and think he’s a clear second-round pick.

The pre-draft process will be more important for Maker than any other prospect in the 2016 NBA Draft. It will make him or it will break him. One key thing going in his favor though is that he is considered an intelligent kid that is likely to interview well with teams. He’s also considered an extremely hard worker who should have no problems convincing teams that he wants to be an NBA player.

Only time will tell where Maker ends up. One thing is clear though: we’re going to find out sooner rather than later what the NBA thinks of him now that he is eligible for the draft in June.

Thon Maker is cleared to enter the draft.(247sports.com)
Thon Maker is cleared to enter the draft. (247sports.com)

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