There are predictions, and then there are predictions. A prediction is saying something like "the Warriors will win the 2018 NBA championship." A prediction is what Kevin Garnett just gave us on Monday.
"Thon Maker reminds me a lot of myself. He loves the game," Garnett said. "He's a young, exuberant athlete who has a lot of tools -- he has touch; he has agility; he has really, good feet. He has a really good shot from 3-point all the way up to 19 to 21 feet. He has very good bones, as we say.
"Thon is going to be the MVP of the league one day. Mark it down. He has the bones. He has the appetite to be able to chase something like that."
For the record, Maker has averaged 4.1 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.5 assists in his 72 career games thus far. Certainly a bold prognostication from KG.
The physical similarities to Garnett are obvious -- both are lithe, near-7-footers capable of handling and shooting the ball. Garnett won an MVP in 2004 after a relatively slow start to his career, but his averages of 10.4 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists as a rookie were far superior to Maker's. They were both 19 years old when they entered the league, but Garnett did receive significantly more playing time as rookie because he was on the lowly 26-win Timberwolves. Maker struggled to find minutes last year on a 42-win Milwaukee squad.
When you look at their per 36-minute averages during their rookie season, they're actually quite similar.
|Per 36 minutes (Rookie season)||PTS||REB||AST|
These numbers are obviously skewed since Maker only played 9.9 minutes as a rookie compared to Garnett's 28.7, but at least it shows that Maker was able to put up solid production in limited time on the floor. So far this season Maker is playing about 18 minutes per game, but his production hasn't followed suit -- he's averaging just 4.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 0.7 assists.
Maker was an absolute mixtape legend in high school, so the potential certainly appears to be there.
However, we've seen plenty of players who look incredible at lower levels struggle to put it all together in the NBA. Getting the praise of a former MVP and NBA champion is never a bad thing, but Maker has a long way to go if he's ever going to reach MVP status.