Thon Maker was the Milwaukee Bucks’ first round selection in June’s NBA Draft. If he plays well while on the floor then he might make a positive impact in Milwaukee this season.
Thon Maker’s rookie year is going to be very interesting. The hype surrounding the Milwaukee Bucks rookie will follow him throughout most of the season and will probably cause a few causal basketball fans who usually forget the Bucks even exist to tune into a game or two.
Even though Thon was a lottery pick, he doesn’t seem to carry the same pressure that the typical lottery pick deals with on a regular basis. This might be because before the draft most experts pegged him as either a late first or early second round pick. The Bucks organization is trying to temper expectations by constantly saying they expect him to take some time to develop.
Yet the Bucks are also saying he is going to get minutes as a rookie. It certainly will take time for him to become what Bucks fans hope but can he make an impact right out of the gate? It seems like he might be able to help Milwaukee with a few of their biggest deficiencies for the time he is on the floor, whether it is in limited or extended minutes.
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The Bucks struggled mightily in a few key areas last season. They were last in the league in three-point attempts, 21st in three point percentage, 20th in free throw percentage, 29th in defensive rebounds, 26th in total rebounds, and 9th in defensive rating. Maker’s athleticism, basketball IQ, height, and shooting ability have the potential to help the Bucks improve in some of these areas.
If you watched any of the Bucks’ Summer League games you might have noticed that Thon Maker can shoot the ball effectively from three-point range. He shot a total of 19 threes through five games. The shots looked smooth and practiced even though he only made 31.6 percent of his attempts. If he can bump that percentage up he will really help the Bucks with their floor spacing.
Maker could feasibly develop into the kind of floor spacing center that NBA coaches and GMs salivate over. Seven footers who can shoot reliably from three are some of the most valuable assets in all of basketball.
His shooting touch is not only noticeable from beyond the three-point line. Thon is also an efficient free throw shooter. During Summer League, Maker attempted a total of 24 free throws, 4.8 per game, and made 79.2 percent of his attempts. He could feasibly be an 80 plus percent free throw shooter over the course of his NBA career.
He doesn’t just make his free throws. He also knows how to get to the line. His ability to absorb contact and still get useful shots off is also going to help his game. You don’t typically see big men get hit outside of the paint and still complete a jumper after getting fouled. But Maker has that kind of skill set.
Another major statistical area where the Bucks really struggled last season was in rebounding. Thon has the height and athleticism to be an impactful rebounder right out of the gate. He was the second best rebounder in all of Summer League where he averaged 9.6 boards per game.
Maker is on the lighter/thinner side so that will make it hard for him to maintain box outs and muscle his way into position for defensive rebounds. But even if he cannot successfully box out the defender every time, his vertical leaping ability and wingspan will allow for him to clean the glass effectively by compensating for being out of position.
The final area where the Bucks had trouble last year was defense. Milwaukee’s defensive rating was a paltry 105.7. That was not something for a team that prides itself on D to feel good about. Thon has the speed, length, intensity, and basketball IQ to be a meaningful, high energy defender early in his NBA career.
Some of the most exciting highlights from the entirety of Summer League came in the form of Thon Maker rejections. His ability to react quickly to what the offense is doing makes him a lethal rim protector. These epic blocks might just help the Bucks improve upon their defense from last season.
There is a fair chance Bucks fans will be shouting “MEET YOUR MAKER” loudly and often this season. Emphatic Thon blocks could become a common occurrence over the course of the season.
Thon Maker might not play 20 plus minutes a game for the Milwaukee Bucks in his rookie year. But that does not mean that he won’t make himself known to the world or improve the Bucks in some of their weakest areas.
Thon on his own will not make the Bucks a playoff team next season but he can be a useful cog in the Milwaukee Bucks machine if he does some simple things whenever he is on the court.