An introduction to the Maker Bol brothers - 02/27/2023
Paul Ater Maker Bol and Abraham Juom Maker Bol are two of the biggest prospects in their generations. They are brothers (there are six brothers in total, three of them play basketball). Ater plays for BAXI Manresa: standing at 6’8, the 2007 forward is the second-ranked player in the 2007-born generation Eurohopes list and has been competing against older players for all his basketball journey. Juom plays for Cazoo Baskonia: standing at 6’11, the 2008 center is the first-ranked player in the 2008-born generation Eurohopes list. The third brother in the mix is William Deng Maker Bol (2010): he joined FC Barcelona’s youth program a few months ago. All of them have fascinating, unique stories that will certainly be told everywhere in a few years. Eurohopes had the chance to see Ater and Juom live recently.
Ater is a shot-creator type of wing. His shooting touch is sweet and his physical tools to create space for himself look promising. Long strides, soft touch and encouraging coordination and fluidity, although he still has room for improvement in this area. He loves to shoot step back threes, but he also provides a ton of shooting versatility: he can run through screens and has good instincts to be at the right spot. Obviously, like most of 2007-born players, he still needs to gain consistency, but he already has the required level of confidence and skill to build on. But it’s not only about three-pointers. On the offensive end, there are more things that stand out of Ater’s skillset. The most remarkable one is his footwork in open-floor situations. Ater knows how to finish with Eurosteps and other movements that make up for his current body-building and will be really useful for the next stages. His long, wide steps are a good way to get easy points. He must work on skills in tight spaces, a common issue for players who yet have margin to grow -high hips, which means high dribbles and problems to shifting directions-, but he has the tools to become an initiator wing. And there’s one more thing that Ater has improved lately: his passing. According to our last sentence, you can deduct he still can’t create for his teammates regularly, but he doesn’t over dribble in transition and has a good enough feel for the game to do quick, simple reads. Contact absorption ability is a work in progress for him.
Juom is a different player. He’s one year younger, but his natural talent jumps off the page. Great touch, great feel, great physical tools. He plays at a less demanding level than Ater and rarely goes with the U18 team, but when you see him play, it doesn't take long to figure out how dominant he is. It’s tough to pressure him and his decision-making, although he commits some mistakes because he often sees things easier than they are, is fun surprising and intriguing. Juom, who has grown 11 centimeters in the last months, already does countless things: he can pass the ball from the top of the key, his shooting mechanics are pretty natural, and he can bring the ball to the half court as if he were a wing. His coordination, as well as his self-confidence, are uncommon for a 6’11 2008-born player. His production is not only because of offensive rebounding, second chances and fastbreaks: it’s also because of his level of skill. He’s starting to pull up from the three-point line, and he’s already able to lower his center of gravity and drive to the rim.
On the defensive end, we find many differences between them. And they are not only because of the archetype, but because of the mindset. Ater, due to Ladji Coulibaly’s injury, has slid a position. Manresa needs him to fight with bigs during some stretches of their games, and against Joventut he had to manage things to survive to the matchup with high-caliber players like Ruben Prey (2005) or Dwayne Aristode (2006). Ater did a good job: he answered at a good level acting as the last man, was responsible enough to guarantee boards for his team and didn’t commit more than two or three positioning mistakes, which allowed him to not get outbodied often. He also was asked to match up with perimeter initiators as the same Aristode or Conrad Martínez in some possessions, and he showed a nice level of activity: he still needs to put up work in areas such as lateral quickness and gamble a bit less to steal the ball, but his level of activity was good, and he found ways to create deflections. If you talk to Ater’s camp, what you’ll learn first is how much he has improved in this area: Ater wouldn’t have been able to fill this role some months ago. Since the start of the season, the 2007-wing has made giant strides when it comes to leadership and talking to his teammates. He was the most active player for Manresa when he was on the bench, and he also was a big reason for why we saw a tight score at the end of the game. Ater is way more mature than some months ago, and he already lives as a pro player: he’s putting tons of work to upgrade his body, both lower and upper, and he has made some significant mentality changes. He works a lot on his own, with personal coaches, and the results are starting to show up. In addition to this, he speaks fluently English, Catalan, and Spanish.
Juom will have to experience a similar process. As it’s normal for a 2008-born player, he still needs to find out ways to be connected to the action for the whole game. During the two games we saw of him this weekend, he showed his great instincts for shot-blocking, an incredibly smooth ability for a 6’11 to turn hips, get steals against perimeter ball-hanlders lowering his center of gravity and attacking the dribble near the floor, and also a quite improved use of his core strength in comparison to what we saw a month ago at the KDT tournament. His main area of improvement, so, is attitude and commitment: get back in transition, communicate better with his teammates (he speaks English) and develop his understanding of the game, which is a pretty common thing for all players in their first stages. We can also see these issues in small things, such as free-throw shooting: surely, if you have ever played basketball at any level, your coach has told you countless times to take your time to breathe and dribble the ball before shooting a free throw, right? Juom still has to learn it. It’s the kind of little marks that can end up making a difference.
It’s still early for them, but definitely during the following years we are going to listen a lot about the Maker Bol brothers.