The 2016 NBA draft saw no less than 26 international players have their names called to come to the stage. It goes to show that there is talent outside of the United States and competitive talent at that.

In fact, there have been many surprises in terms of how the 2016 draft panned out, in comparison to the mock draft. Thon Maker and Kay Felder are probably the most unique of the players involved and therefore I’ve decided to do a post on them, potential and constraints.


Thon Maker has made history in more ways than one, not only is he the first player to straight out of high school in over a decade, but he is also the possessor of the highest all-time vertical jump in players over 6′ 11”. Originally from South Sudan, after fleeing war by moving to Australia at the age of 6, Maker has also been through the United States and Canada on his journey to the NBA. He is known for his impressive mixtapes, which almost make it look as if he’s a 7’1” guard.

Although this super prospect has all of this potential, there are many questions which seemed to be of concern to those about to draft him.

Suspicions Around His ‘Real’ Age

There have been several suspicions as to how old Thon Maker actually is, although not backed up by any concrete evidence. This may be because players, particularly of African descent, have been known for a long time to forge their ages in order to bolster their draft value across several sports.

For now these are just lightweight speculations which didn’t faze the Milwaukee Bucks – who happened to draft him much earlier than he was projected (he went 10th in the draft, was projected to be mid 20’s].

How Ready He is for the NBA

It’s not every day that you see a 7′ 1” prospect weighing less than 100 kg (Thon weighs 98). Part of the reason may be that no player has gone to the NBA direct from high school since 2004, but against some of the many heavy players in the NBA, how he will fare competiting with them could be a point of concern. However, any draft decision is a gamble – with Maker so far aveaging 16pts and 15rebs, you could say that the Bucks have made a good one!


Kay Felder has gone against the grain, not only has he led the NCAA in assists [9.3] he also ranked fourth in points in all of Division I men’s basketball NCAA [24.4 points per game].

The lefty Junior of Oakland found himself drafted just sixth to last in this year’s draft  [54th overall]

Wait a minute? He has done so much in his college career and went so late in the draft?

Yes…  In comes the against the grain part.

Kay Felder stands at only 5’9” in shoes, 5′ 7 ½” without. He even says in the below video that he the best player in the draft and with evidence to back his argument, I’m somewhat in agreement with him.

 He has impressed in his summer league debut, getting 14 points and 4 assists against, who else, but the Thon Maker’s Milwaukee Bucks. With Dellavedova having changed between the two clubs over the summer signing a $38 million deal, Felder has the potential and scope to become Cleveland Cavaliers backup point guard.


It’s Important To Know What Your Constraints Are

In relation to whatever basketball goal you’re working towards, it’s always important to know what could hold you back from being successful. Felder had his height and the fact that he is a Junior in the draft, two things which can hurt your draft stock. The NBA draft generally favours younger players, freshmen most of the time, due to the potential giving them a higher ceiling.

Also Felder is nearly a foot beneath the average NBA height of 6′ 6”,   but has managed to overcome these constraints, not only by being a leading player in NCAA but also possessing unique qualities, he is left handed and he has second highest jump of all NBA combines ever. Similar to him is Isiah Thomas of the Celtics and of course Nate Robinson – All three have performed above and beyond what was initially expected of them.

Be Your Own CEO – Control What You Can Control

Where Thon Maker may never fill out the same way that Dwight Howard did, he has shown significant improvement –  putting on an impressive 27lbs of muscle to his tall frame. He knows that he needs to fit in with other players of his position by getting his weight up, but he also is aware that slowly but surely in the way for him to control the situation. His body has now gone from Manute Bol-esque to one resembling Kevin Garnett.

People wanted us to bulk up straight away and get to playing. That would’ve resulted in injuries and bad plays. We took our time. We didn’t worry about others critiquing that I’m too skinny.”

Thon Maker

What ballers should take from this is that basketball is a a game of survival of the fittest. The elite know their constraints and work with them in the best manner possible in relation to their situation.

The Most Valuable Asset to NBA is Potential, It Can Vary From League to League

Where not every baller will have their eyes on the NBA, it’s important to know the nature of where you are aiming to progress to. In the NBA, particularly when it comes to the draft period, potential is everything, whereas in the Professional leagues outside the US experience and dependability generally trump over potential, unless you are a national of that country and/or young.

To the unexperienced eye, it can be hard to see why Felder went 54th, but when you now put it into perspective of what the league wants, it can become that little bit more understood.

“The Cavs took a big leap on me and I have to show them why they brought me here,”

-Kay Felder

Felder is aware of this and will therefore is ready to step up to the challenge.

Are you ready to step up to your challenges in your basketball career?

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