Observing Makur Maker Against Belmont
May 30th, 2021
By Alan Lu
Recently, Howard’s 6-11 freshman center Makur Maker declared to enter the 2021 NBA Draft, but he also did not hire an agent in order to maintain his eligibility. He was a consensus five-star recruit that was the highest-ranked recruit to commit to a historically black college or university (HBCU) in the modern era. He also is the brother of former NBA center, Thon Maker.
Unfortunately, Makur Maker played only two games before going down to a groin injury, and he was held out for the rest of the season, and his team played just five games total this year. I took the time to see the only college game that he played in a November 25th game against an NCAA, division 1 college basketball program, Belmont, with thanks to YouTube via Alex Hines. I also took the time to watch some of the other players that played in this match as well. Here are my thoughts on how Makur Maker fared, as well as how his game may translate to the NBA.
Makur Maker is an athletic big man that primarily excelled as a low post scorer, and he also was able to make some solid plays on both ends of the floor. He played very well early on against Belmont. He slowed down as the game progressed, but he seemed to show enough promise to warrant a second round selection in the upcoming draft.
Maker did a good job of scoring in the post. He leapt up to catch an entry pass, and he promptly scored on a quick, close-range jumper. He also showed deft footwork and scoring touch to make a quick, face-up jumper from the baseline. He also can draw fouls upon his opponents to get to the free throw line. Plus, he also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. He was able to get the ball midway on a roll to the rim, and he dribbled in to score off the glass. He also dribbled to his left to score on a put back after grabbing an offensive rebound.
He also managed to calmly make a smooth, pull-up jumper from the mid-range. On the downside, he struggled to consistently make jumpers from the mid-range or from beyond the arc. Sometimes he would rush his shots, which would lead to some bad misses, and he tended to miss too hard when attempting threes. He used a pump fake move, but he ended up missing on a floater completely another time.
On the downside, he was quite turnover prone. Maker is an unselfish player that can handle the basketball, and he would look to find the open man to set up scores for his teammates. He would set on-ball screens to help his teammates score on open jump shots. He also showed that he can ably pass out of the post and also throw long outlet passes. He also showed some ball-handling skills in the open court, and he can make drive and kick passes to set up scoring chances for his teammates. On the downside, he would sometimes throw hasty passes that would get deflected and intercepted. He also would struggle to handle the ball when pressured, which would lead him to get balls poked away to lose it to the opposition. He also set a moving screen that led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover another time.
He also showed a solid ability to rebound the basketball. Maker was able to leap up to get plenty of boards in this game, especially on the defensive side of the ball. He would tend to push the ball up the court after getting his team defensive rebounds. Sometimes though he would forget to box out his man, which would lead him to allow opponents to get boards in his area.
Defensively, Maker looked to be about average at best. For the positives, he can ably defend in the post. On one play, he held his ground and blocked a shot to a teammate due to possessing solid strength, length, and timing. He also didn’t bite on a pump fake when defending on the block another time, and he contested the shot to force a miss. He did a good job of not biting on pump fakes, as he stayed on his feet, and indirectly forced a passing turnover another time. Plus, he also can defend out on the perimeter. He deflected a loose ball that was poked away to help his team get a steal. He also poked a ball away when defending out on the perimeter to nearly get a steal.
On the downside, he tended to struggle to defend drives when defending out on the perimeter. Sometimes he would not move his feet very well, as he would get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. Another time, he didn’t contest the shot despite being in the area to do so, as his team allowed an opponent to score around the basket. He also would tend to miss on steal attempts, which led him to commit a reach-in foul, and it also would lead him to be out of position when fronting opponents when defending in the post, which would lead him to allow his man to get an easy catch and score down low. He also was slow to get around a screen once, as his team allowed an opponent to score on a backdoor cut.
In general, Makur Maker is an intriguing prospect, as he has a solid set of offensive skills. He is a very effective scorer in the low post, and he also has shown a developing mid-range jump shot. He will need to continue to improve his outside shot, playmaking skills, and on-ball defense. Right now, he is a borderline second round candidate for the 2021 draft. If he chooses to stay in, he will likely need to spend at least a season in the G-League to hone his game. If he can continue to progress and develop his skills, he could end up being an effective rotation player in the league similar to Dallas Mavericks’ big man, Dwight Powell in the NBA.
Belmont’s 6-2 redshirt junior point guard, Grayson Murphy played very well in his team’s win over Howard. Though he is not an overwhelming athlete, he tended to make sound plays when he is on the floor, and he was three assists away from being able to notch the highly-coveted, triple-double in this game. Murphy did a good job of knocking down quick, open spot-up threes off the catch to show off his sharpshooting prowess. He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. He would tend to score on aggressive drives in transition, and he can finish plays using either hand. He also managed to score on a quick turnaround put back off the glass. He also tried to score on a half-court drive to his right, but he ended up getting his shot blocked out of bounds.
He also displayed good playmaking skills. Murphy is an unselfish player that will often look to find the open man to rack up assists. He can capably pass off the dribble to get his teammates the basketball, and he can kick balls out to shooters to rack up assists. He can find teammates quickly on the break, and he can throw long, accurate passes to get them the ball. He didn’t commit many turnovers, but he did throw an inaccurate high entry pass that got intercepted once. Also, Murphy did a tremendous job of rebounding the basketball. He would often chase down balls to get multiple boards on both ends of the floor, and he would sometimes push the ball quickly up the court after getting defensive rebounds.
He also played adequate defense in this game. Murphy would run in to intercept passes to get steals, and he also would swipe away mishandled balls from opposing ball handlers to get other steals. He also managed to deflect a pass another time, and he also contested a three to force a miss. On the downside, he would struggle to defend quicker players, and he would get beat off the dribble to allow scores. Other times, he would not even contest shots despite being in the area to do so, which would give his opponents easy baskets as a result.
Overall, Grayson Murphy is a tough, gritty playmaker that can shoot the basketball and reliably run the team at the point. His lack of elite athletic gifts may make it tougher for him to consistently create his own shot or to defend at higher levels, but his basketball IQ and feel for the game could potentially enable him to carve out a role as a backup point guard in the NBA someday.
Howard’s 6-10 redshirt freshman forward, Steve Settle III is an athletic player that was able to make some solid plays on both ends of the floor. He showed off versatile scoring skills in this game. He shot the ball well, as he showed that he can make threes off the catch and dribble. He also ran the floor and caught a lob pass to score on an alley-oop layup. He also showed some ability to score off the dribble. He struggled to make shots consistently in one-on-one situations, though. He also played unselfishly, and he also was able to set a screen to help his teammate score on an open jump shot. However, he also committed a couple of ball-handling turnovers, and he threw a pass that got intercepted, as he was fairly turnover prone in this game.
He also managed to get his fair share of rebounds. Settle played adequate defense, as he would deflect and intercept passes, and contest shots in the paint, and he showed surprisingly solid strength to defend in the low post despite weighing just 175 pounds. On the downside, he would sometimes get beat off the dribble when defending out on the perimeter, which would lead his team to allow scores at times.
Overall, Steve Settle played well in this game, and he is an intriguing prospect that could be worth following in the future. He will need to be a more consistent scorer and playmaker, but it’s clear that the talent is there. He can score the basketball in a variety of ways, and he also handles the ball well, especially for a player his size. If he can continue to improve and develop his skills, he could end up being a second round pick sometime in the future.
Belmont’s 6-11 redshirt junior center, Nick Muszynski also played well in this game. He’s a strong, low post scorer that can score on turnaround jump hooks, turnaround jumpers, and on powerful dunks. He also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. He also was able to block a shot, and he showed some ability to defend out on the perimeter as well as in the post.
On the downside, he didn’t make any of his threes in this game, and he also committed a couple of careless turnovers on offense. He also would have some lapses defensively, as he would struggle to defend in one-on-one situations. Overall, he had a solid showing, and with a solid senior season, he could end up competing for a roster spot in the NBA someday.
Belmont’s 6-2 freshman guard, JaCobi Wood also played well in this game. He shot the ball well, as he excelled at knocking down threes, and he also showed the ability to score off the dribble. He struggled more to score in traffic though, and he had trouble finishing through contact. He also displayed decent playmaking skills. Wood is a creative passer that passes the ball well off the dribble, and he can make a variety of passes due to possessing solid court vision. On the downside, he can be careless at times, which can lead to turnovers. He was called for a push off that led him to commit an offensive foul and a turnover. He also threw an inaccurate, loopy pass that got picked off another time.
He also rebounded the ball well, and he was able to get boards on both ends of the floor. Wood also played satisfactory defense. He would run in to get his hands on passes, and he would poke balls away to get steals and deflections. However, he often would over-help in the paint, as he would be late to rotate back to his man, and he would tend to allow opponents to score on threes. Other times, he would commit reach-in fouls when defending them off the dribble.
Overall, JaCobi Wood is a fairly athletic, skilled combo guard that can shoot and pass the basketball. He will need to be a more consistent player in games, but if he can continue to develop his skills, and he could end up projecting into a backup role off the bench in the NBA someday.
Howard’s 5-11 freshman point guard, Rahim Ali Jr. had a good showing in this game. He shot the ball well, and he also excelled at scoring on hustle plays. He ran in to score on a tip-in, he scored on a speedy drive in transition, and he also showed a knack for making jumpers in this match. He also passed the ball well. He did a good job of finding cutters to notch assists, and he excelled as a facilitator off the dribble and in transition. However, he can struggle to handle the ball when heavily pressured, which can cause him to get the ball knocked away and to lose it to the opposition.
He also rebounded the ball well, and Ali would tend to push the ball quickly up the floor after getting his team defensive boards. He also played satisfactory defense in this game. He was able to pick off of a pass to get a steal, and he drew a charge when defending a drive another time. He also would stay in front of his man to contest shots to force misses. On the downside, he tended to over-help in the paint, which would lead his team to allow three-point baskets. Another time, he trailed his man on a curl cut, which led him to commit a foul that time.
Overall, Ali played very well in this game, as his performance against Belmont was much better than how he fared in the other contests this season. He will need to improve his jump shot and show that he can guard taller ball-handlers on a consistent basis. He will need to stay in school to hone his game, but if he can develop his skills, he could compete for a roster spot in the NBA someday.
Belmont’s 6-0 senior guard, Luke Smith also played well in his team’s win over Howard. Though he only possesses average athletic gifts, he excelled as a shooter and scorer in this game. He made spot-up threes from beyond the arc. He also would consistently score on floaters and from the mid-range on shots off the dribble.
He also displayed satisfactory playmaking skills. Smith is an unselfish player that can find teammates on the move, and he can throw solid passes off the dribble. He also set an off-ball screen to help a teammate score on a cut to the basket. On the downside, he can sometimes be inaccurate with his passes at times. He also took too many steps after getting the ball on a curl cut, which led him to commit a traveling violation. Though he didn’t grab many rebounds in this game, he was able to leap up to get a pair of defensive boards.
He also played decent defense in this game. Smith would intercept passes and poke balls away to get numerous steals. He also defended a drive and got his hands on a ball and tied up an opposing ball handler to get a steal. He also would contest jumpers to force misses, and he also successfully drew a charge on another time. However, he would tend to get beat off the dribble, which would lead him to commit fouls and allow scores. Other times, he would over-help in the paint and sag too far off of shooters, which would lead his opponents to score on three-point baskets.
Overall, Luke Smith is a skilled offensive player that can shoot and pass the basketball. He put up fairly pedestrian numbers at a mid-major program this year, and he seems to be an unlikely bet to be drafted. If he makes it to the NBA, he may project to be a shooting specialist off the bench. Otherwise, he could still carve out a solid playing career in the G-League and/or overseas.
Howard’s 5-10 freshman point guard, Thomas Weaver also played well off the bench in this game. He excelled at making spot-up threes, and he also ran the floor to score on an acrobatic, reverse layup on the break. He is an unselfish player that would swing the ball to open shooters to notch assists, and he also can make drive and kick passes. He also would go hard to get defensive rebounds, and he would quickly push the ball up the court afterwards.
Overall, Weaver had a strong showing in his team’s loss to Belmont. He is a good shooter that can knock down jump shots. He will need to get more consistent playing time, and he will need to show that he can consistently guard upper-echelon opponents in games. He will need to stay in school to hone his game, but he is an offensively skilled player that may have a solid future in basketball ahead of him.
Howard’s 6-4 redshirt sophomore guard, Isaac Suffren also played well off the bench. This turned out to be his only good game of the year though, as he scored all of his points in this game against Belmont. Suffren is a fairly athletic combo guard that was able to score on crafty drives to the hoop. He also scored on a backdoor cut, and he also ran off of a ball screen to make a quick, spot-up three off the catch. On the downside, he struggled to handle the ball at times, as he would mishandle it and get it stolen away from him to commit turnovers. He was able to get a couple of rebounds, and he was able to run in and leap up to get an impressive, one-handed offensive rebound once.
Defensively, he looked to be about average. He was able to jump on a loose ball that a teammate deflected away to help his team get a steal. On the downside, he would give up too much space to shooters, which would lead him to allow opponents to score on three-point baskets. Overall, Isaac Suffren is a versatile scorer that can make shots in a variety of ways, and he can bring some scoring punch off the bench. He will need to find more consistent playing time to reach his full potential. Right now, he will need to stay in school to develop his skills, but he is an offensively skilled player that may have a solid future in basketball ahead of him.