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Thon Maker is the great unknown of the 2016 NBA draft.
Most scouts and decision makers agree the seven-footer will land somewhere in the first round next month. His potential is considerable. After all, there aren't many guys his size with his speed. That, combined with his shooting, has made him one of the most intriguing prospects in this year's pool of draftees.
But where does Maker fit in with an NBA team? What are his strengths? What are his areas for improvement? Given that he's making the NBA leap straight from high school, those are major questions that can be answered by his individual workouts.
The Jazz got their crack at Maker on Wednesday, flying him in from New York, where he and North Carolina guard Marcus Paige participated in a pro day 24 hours prior. Maker and Notre Dame floor leader Demetrius Jackson are the first two projected first-round picks the Jazz have brought in for workouts so far. That alone made it an intriguing morning.
"I don't really want to try and prove anything," Maker said. "I just want to be myself in workouts, and in my individual interviews. The team can get whatever they want out of it. I just want to be a hard worker, and show that I'm a vocal leader. I want to be coachable and aggressive on both ends."
There lies the mystery with Maker. He became famous in basketball circles early in his high school career through a series of YouTube mixtapes declaring him the next Kevin Durant because of his shooting and ability to handle the ball and execute crossovers.
But as his prep career played out, it became obvious that Maker wasn't that guy. In some ways those internet videos were the worst thing to happen to Maker, because it created hard-to-meet expectations. But to his credit, Maker has remade himself. Prep scouts have praised his ability to play hard and with energy.
"I gained 27 pounds during the last year," Maker said. "I became comfortable with who I am and what I can do on the court. Some of the stuff that's happened to me has been good for me. It's made me more mature."
Maker was born in the Sudan, and moved to Australia with his family at a young age, in order to escape his war-torn home. He began playing basketball in 2010, and moved to the United States for high school. He bounced through multiple schools during his prep career and became eligible for the draft because he did a post-graduate year, essentially a fifth season of high school.
Once he did become eligible, he decided to begin his professional career, rather than play college basketball for a season.
"I wanted to chase my dream," Maker said. "It's always been my goal to play in the league, and to play with the best players in the world. Plus, with all of the schools I've been to, I didn't know what the NCAA would rule on my eligibility. I didn't know how fast I would be playing in college, or if I would've played at all."
For the Jazz, Maker shot the ball well, and showed off his offensive skills. He proved he could guard on the perimeter, but will clearly need time to gain the strength needed to hold his own in the post.
But Maker is a confident kid who has goals for himself. While people were dubbing him the next Durant, he instead patterned his game after Kevin Garnett, minus the trash-talking. And while he is currently one of the biggest wildcards in the draft, Maker's workouts are about introducing himself on and off the floor at a personal level.
"I thought he played pretty well," Jazz VP of player personnel Walt Perrin said. "Considering he had a pro day yesterday, I was worried about him. But he was in good shape, he shot the ball well and he got through it. It was impressive that he was in shape. He's gotten bigger and he's figuring out how to play."
Wednesday's Jazz workout rundown
Demetrius Jackson, guard, Notre Dame • Projected lottery pick, could be second point guard off the board
Marcus Georges-Hunt, guard, Georgia Tech • Can really score, looking for a spot in the second round
Eric McClellan, guard, Gonzaga • Probably an overseas guy, needs summer league invite in order to impress
Marcus Paige, guard, North Carolina • After playing shooting guard for UNC, transitioning back to natural point guard spot
Mike Tobey, center, Virginia • Shot the ball extremely well on Wednesday