The Milwaukee Bucks stunned quite a few folks around the NBA when they selected Thon Maker with the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. Maker had been discussed extensively leading up to the draft, as teams and scouts tried to project the "Mystery Man" of his class.
Maker's talent and potential are apparent, and he fits the mold of recent Bucks draft picks -- long, athletic, young (hopefully?) -- most notably Giannis Antetokounmpo. But he is undoubtedly the biggest project Milwaukee has drafted in recent memory, and will have a long way to go before he becomes a key piece in Milwaukee's rotation.
Here are the initial thoughts and grades of Maker's selection from our writers:
Dan: I tweeted earlier that I'd be thrilled getting Maker at #36, and that wasn't an entirely unlikely outcome in the eyes of many draft experts. It makes some sense, even at Milwaukee's position, to swing for the fences in an otherwise underwhelming draft, but the Bucks are nearing a point where opportunity costs get amplified. I can accept that a trade back was just too hard to work out, but this seems like a pretty big reach. Grade: C
Eric B: Well I would be lying if I said I wasn't surprised and a little upset (as much as someone who has no actual investment in the team can be). I just thought there was no way Thon was in that 10 range, but John Hammond struck again. Now that everything is settled, I still feel weird about him being selected at 10, but I don't feel it's as big of a reach as I previously thought. Hammond is high on this guy, and, dare I say, I trust Hammond's gut on this one. So, whatever. Let's roll. Grade: B
Mitchell: Well then. First of all, I really wish I didn’t write the words "I hate Thon Maker" so recently, on this very website. But, you can’t change the past, so let’s talk about how to #OwnTheFuture. Maker is a mystery right now, but if the Bucks feel comfortable enough to try and unravel that mystery, I applaud them for their ambition. Whether or not Maker is a mystery that can even be solved is another story entirely. This pick will come down to whether Thon Maker is the Sudanese Kristaps Porzingis...or the Sudanese Yi Jianlian. Grade: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Aron: I was really surprised by this pick, but I understand it because the Bucks based it on potential in a weak class. Maker won the Bucks over because of his character and what he could be down the road, plus he fits with Jabari Parker and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Still, they clearly made a big reach. It wasn't a horrible decision, but if he flops, he could be viewed as the worst draft pick in franchise history. Grade: D+
Eric N: It’s cool. I’m not going to grade a pick hours after it is made. I think it’s cool that Thon Maker could eventually shoot the three and eventually protect the rim and eventually run all over the floor and eventually be a part of an insane defense that switches all over the place and eventually handle the ball some and eventually make some plays. I just have no idea how many of those things he will eventually be able to do in the NBA. So, for now, like I said, it’s cool. Grade: __
Frank: Let's start with the bad: lots of people are going to take a flamethrower to this pick in large part because no one else seemed likely to take him this high. And for me that's the one thing we can criticize the Bucks for right away. In an ideal world they find a way to move down, get their guy in a more reasonable spot, and then also get another asset for their troubles. Presumably they tried that and couldn't get a deal, so instead they went with their guy, which in principle is the next-best thing to do.
As for whether Maker is the right guy? Who knows. What we do know is that his measurables are terrific and the consensus has always been that he's a phenomenal person. That's a great start, and in theory he could eventually become the perfect frontcourt complement to Giannis and Jabari -- the 7-foot shot-blocker who can competently play both inside and out on both ends. Still, scouts have had major reservations about whether his raw skills will ever translate into real production, and the questions about his age are particularly scary for a fanbase that lived through the Yi Jianlian Era. If Maker is actually 22, then you'd worry the Bucks might have blown the due diligence process and picked a much lower-ceiling guy than they though. If he's 19, then you'd feel much, much better about his ability to reach the big-time potential people have talked about for years. All we know for sure is that Thon Maker is now a Buck -- time to take a deep breath and hope that he lives up to the hype. Grade: Ask me in 2019, OK?