Assessing Makur Maker

March 25th, 2020

by Alan Lu

I decided to take the opportunity to watch Hillcrest Prep’s 6-11 center, Makur Maker play in a high school basketball game that took place against Combine Academy on December 27th, as I was able to see this with thanks to YouTube via Combine Academy. Makur Maker had been deemed eligible to enter the 2020 NBA Draft, though he has not yet officially declared to be a part of it. I wanted to watch another basketball game to get a better feel for his strengths and weaknesses. Here are my thoughts on how he fared, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA.

Hillcrest Prep's 6-11 center, Makur Maker could be a potential second round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. (Photo: John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Hillcrest Prep’s 6-11 center, Makur Maker could be a potential second round pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. (Photo by John Jones/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Makur Maker is an athletic big man that can score on hustle plays. He was able to get the ball on a roll to the rim, and he caught a tough entry pass in traffic before dribbling forcefully to score on a powerful two-handed dunk. He also does a good job of drawing fouls upon his defenders, and he also can handle the ball in the open floor. Sometimes though, he doesn’t always seal his man when trying to post up, and he can struggle to protect the basketball, which can make it hard for him to get his shots up when looking to score off the dribble or in the post.   Also, he also tended to miss shots when looking to score off of offensive rebounds, as he can be prone to rushing his moves to the hoop. He missed once on a put back dunk attempt, and he later missed on a wild tip-in attempt, as he didn’t gather to try to score under control.

He struggled to make threes consistently though, as he particularly had trouble making long-range shots from beyond the arc off the catch. Late in this game though, Maker was able to dribble in to make a deep pull-up three from way out to show his range and ability to space the floor.

Also, Makur displayed adequate playmaking skills. He is a good ball handler, especially for a player his size, and he can throw crisp outlet and interior passes to find teammate on the break to set up score for them. He’ll look to find the open man, and he also can pass off the dribble as well as out of the post. He also will set screens to help get his teammates open jump shots. Sometimes though, he can be careless when handling the basketball, and he also will sometimes throw hasty passes that can lead him to commit turnovers.

Plus, Maker also did a good job of rebounding the basketball. He would leap up to get boards on both ends of the floor, and he would also tend to bring the ball up the court after getting defensive rebounds. However, he was called for an over the back foul when going for one offensive board early on, and sometimes he would miss balls in his area, as they would sometimes bounce off of his hands before going to other players.   Late in this game, there was one ball that he should’ve gotten a defensive board, but he ended up getting a late jump to the basketball, and he ended up getting tied up in which the possession arrow went to the other team.

In addition, Maker played adequate defense in this game. He is an active help defender that will go for steals and blocks, and he also will look to challenge shots out on the perimeter. He was able to defend an opponents that dribbled to the post area, and he managed to block the shot hard out of bounds due to possessing good length and timing. He also managed to tie up an opponent on a defensive rebound to force a tie-up and a turnover to get a key stop for his team. He’ll also close out on shooters to force some misses, and he also possesses decent footwork to guard opposing ball handlers out on the perimeter. However, sometimes he can struggle to defend opponents in one-on-one situations. There was one play where he gave up too much space to his man, and he ended up allowing his opponent to score on a corner three. Other times, he may struggle to defend or rotate to defend on drives, which can lead his team to allow scores.

Unfortunately, overall I was a bit underwhelmed with Maker’s performance in his team’s win over Combine Academy. I came away more impressed with the high skill level of his teammates, and his team’s overall athleticism and defensive prowess in this game. Specifically, for Hillcrest Prep, Michael Foster Jr. and Keon Edwards were the standout performers as both excelled at making plays on both ends of the floor. Makur Maker just didn’t seem to assert himself enough on offense nor make enough shots, and he didn’t block many shots, either.

On the plus side, he’s an athletic big man that can handle the basketball. Right now, he may be further away from being ready to play in the NBA than anticipated as he’s not really a polished player, and Maker will need to show that he can play well consistently against top-notch competition. For now, it may be in his best interests to forego the draft and play in college basketball or for an overseas team, as he will still need time to refine his skills. If he does declare to enter the 2020 draft, he may not even be a lock to be drafted, and he will likely have to spend some time in the G-League or overseas, but if he can make strides to improve his overall game,  Maker could perhaps end up being an effective role player similar to Detroit Pistons’ center, Christian Wood in the NBA.

Other Notes:

One player that really caught my eye was 6-9 high school junior forward, Michael Foster Jr., who showed off impressive athleticism and shot blocking skills, as well as a solid ability to score the basketball.

He did a tremendous job of blocking shots, as he was a shot-blocking machine in his team’s win over Combine Academy. Foster possesses very good athleticism, leaping ability, and timing to swat a number of shots, as he would do so off of drives and jumpers to force a wealth of misses. He was active in contesting shots to help his team get stops on the defensive end.

Foster also did a good job of scoring off the dribble, as he can score on floaters on pull-up jumpers, and he also drove in to draw free throws on a powerful dunk attempt. He’ll need to expand upon his shooting range though, as he struggled to make outside shots from beyond the arc.

He also is an unselfish player that will look to find the open man, and he can throw sharp interior passes to find teammates in transition as well as at the rim to set up scoring chances for them. On the downside, he would sometimes commit charging fouls off the dribble, and he also was called for a traveling violation another time.

Overall, Michael Foster Jr. played really well, and to me, he looked to be the definitive best player of the game on this day. He had an outstanding showing in his team’s win, and Foster could end up being a solid candidate to go in the lottery of the 2022 NBA Draft when that time comes around.

Hillcrest Prep’s 6-7 high school junior swingman, Keon Edwards also played very well, as he played terrific defense and excelled at attacking the basket to garner scores in this game. Edwards showed a knack for blocking and altering shots off of drives to get stops for his team, and he also deflected an inbounds pass out of bounds. He also managed to catch a long outlet pass on the break to score on a strong, high-flying dunk in transition. Overall, Edwards is a very athletic player that defends very well, and he was a good get for DePaul. He is a talented prospect, and he could be a definite player to watch in college basketball in 2022.

Hillcrest Prep’s 6-6 high school senior guard, Dalen Terry also had a solid showing, as he’s an athletic playmaker that showed a good ability to score on strong drives to the basket, and he also sprinted back on defense to make an impressive chase down block to prevent an opponent from scoring on a drive in transition.  He was a good get for Arizona, and he could be a prospect to watch for the 2021 draft. 

Also, Hillcrest Prep’s 6-3 high school sophomore guard, Devontes Cobbs played well in his team’s win over Combine Academy. He is an athletic playmaker that managed to score on a speedy baseline drive, and he also did a good job of blocking shots to get stops for his team defensively. He is talented player that certainly has the ability to succeed at a high-major conference team in college basketball, and he could be an NBA draft prospect to watch sometime down the road.

For Combine Academy, 6-3 high school junior guard, Jalen Miller is a good shooter that moves well off the ball on offense, and has a nice pump fake move to draw defenders in the air. 5-10 high school freshman point guard, Robert Dillingham is a poised shot maker that can score the basketball in a variety of ways.