When Thon Maker worked out for the Milwaukee Bucks before the NBA draft in June, I asked him to compare his game to another player.
Maker, an affable young man, didn’t hesitate in responding and fired back, smiling, “I’m a modern-day version of Kevin Garnett.’’
The Bucks, who shocked the basketball world by making the 7-foot-1 Maker the No. 10 overall selection in the draft, would be ecstatic if he came remotely close to having the same type of pro career as Garnett, who is a lock for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.
But while Maker sees himself as a Garnett type, those who have watched Maker up close don’t necessarily share that comparison. They offer different opinions, somewhat surprising ones, like those provided by Stacey Augmon, the former Nevada-Las Vegas star who went on to play 16 seasons in the NBA and later served as an NBA assistant coach for several seasons.
Augmon helped coach the Bucks’ summer league team in Las Vegas and, based on his observations of Maker, said Maker reminded him of another South Sudan product.
“I definitely compare Maker to Manute Bol,’’ said Augmon, referring to the 7-foot-7 Bol, who played 10 seasons in the NBA and was one of the league’s most imposing defenders. “I believe Maker can make the 3-pointer better than Manute but, on the defensive end, they are similar. He (Maker) covers a lot of ground and alters a lot of shots just like Manute Bol.
“That’s why Maker and Manute Bol are definitely similar. When you came in the lane against Manute Bol, he would alter your shot or block your shot. I see the same similarities with Maker.’’
Bol, who died of acute kidney failure in 2010 at the age of 47, ranks 15th all-time in total blocks with 2,086 and second in career blocks per game at 3.34. Bol also twice led the NBA in blocked shots (1986 and 1989) and was chosen to the all-NBA Defensive second team in 1986. He has the distinction of being the only player in NBA history to have more career blocked shots (2,086) than career points (1,599).
While Augmon contends Maker could eventually be a defensive force, he doesn’t envision Maker being a center like Bol.
“I see him as a four guy,’’ Augmon said of Maker playing the power forward spot. “You want to use his length, you want to use his quickness. You just don’t want to put him under the basket and be pounded on.’’
Asked what aspect of Maker’s game impressed him the most, Augmon replied, “I was very impressed with his motor. He played like every possession was his last possession. And that’s unusual for a young player like him.’’