Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis ‘The Greak Freak’ Antetokounmpo says Australian teammate Thon Maker has the potential to be a master of the NBA.
Maker, 19 made headlines around the world when the South Sudanese refugee, who came to Australia aged six, became the 10th overall selection in the 2016 NBA draft.
The arrival of Maker and fellow Aussie Ben Simmons has boosted the numbers of Australians playing in the NBA to nine.
The 7’1 (216cm) power forward had an impressive pre-season and was selected in the All-NBA Summer League second team, after averaging 14.2 points, 9.6 rebounds per game and shooting 37.7%.
Antetokounmpo, who was named the NBA International player of the year said Maker could go all the way.
“I think he’s going to be a great player,” he said. “He’s mindset right now is unbelievable because he’s always in the gym. He has an extremely great work ethic. So, for him the sky is the limit and in two years we are going to be talking about a master.”
Maker has been eased into the NBA by coach Jason Kidd featuring in three of the Bucks opening nine games for a total of four minutes. However, Marker did make a memorable debut in the final minutes of the Bucks’ 125-107 win against the Pacers when he hit consecutive three pointers in 1:35 minutes of action.
Like Maker, Antetokounmpo was a teenager when he first entered the NBA as the 15th draft pick in 2013 and has instructed the young Aussie to work hard.
“I can definitely see some similarities in Thon,” he said. “I try to help Thon off the court and on the court. For his age, he’s really, really mature.
“When he got in the league I told him, listen son you go to spend as much time as you can in the gym. That’s got to be your number one goal, spend as much time as you can in the gym, because the way that you are built and our skill set is unbelievable, your potential is unbelievable so spend as much time as you can in the gym and not waste it.”
With players like Jabari Parker (21), Malcom Brogdon (23), Rashad Vaughn (20), Antetokounmpo felt the Bucks’ youthful roster and particularly Maker (19) are a side for the future.
“There are a lot of teams that are futuristic, the Lakers, Minnesota, Orlando, but I feel like we might be the most futuristic team in the league right now,” he said.
“I feel like coach Kidd has given a lot of minutes to me and Jabari, so that basically is giving us that experience, and I know that Thon Maker is coming behind – our future will be bright.”