Milwaukee Bucks: Takeaways From Loss To Boston Celtics

Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports /

A Star In The Making

Thon Maker has shown plenty of flashes of potential recently, but the final game of the regular season may have provided the most tantalizing glimpse of the youngster’s ceiling to date.

Without anchors like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton, or even experienced NBA pros like Tony Snell and Matthew Dellavedova for company, more responsibility rested on the shoulders of Maker on Wednesday, albeit in a low stakes game for Milwaukee.

The rookie has shown little difficulty in knocking down threes throughout the year, but on this occasion he missed both of his attempts from distance. Instead, we got to see a lot more than just a pick-and-pop novelty.

Maker was thriving as the roll man — something the Bucks should have him do much more often — and twice penetrated through gaps in the Boston defense for punctuation dunks.

Beyond that, some of the recent positives that have been on display from Maker were again in evidence. The 20-year-old continued to show improved hands, which allowed him to influence the game in a multitude of ways. Maker was comfortable moving the ball, dished three assists, came up with a couple of loose balls off the ground, and was a noticeably tenacious and active presence on the glass.

His pièce de résistance came on the defensive end, though. It was established way back in Summer League that Maker’s length would cause opponents a multitude of problems, but it’s starting to feel as if his understanding of how to utilize that particular physical gift has now stepped up a notch.

That can undoubtedly be attributed to hard work, but it may have just as much to do with confidence. Maker no longer looks to just block shots, but to eradicate them entirely as Jae Crowder had the misfortune of learning.

It could also be the traits of his All-Star teammate rubbing off on him, but the way Thon’s feet pound up and down the hardwood on the way back for a chasedown may be even more spectacular.

There may not be another center in the league capable of tracking back with such speed, and Maker certainly wasn’t shy on precision when he made it back.

As his rookie season comes to a close, Maker’s range of abilities are starting to look considerably more diverse. He’s no longer looking like the token starter he resembled only a month ago, but instead he’s a valid member of Milwaukee’s starting lineup and a player with real two-way star potential.

The Bucks trailed by only two points when Maker checked out for the last time at the end of the third quarter. Re-inserting Maker along with a couple of others could have seen the Bucks hold off the Celtics’ eventual game-winning rally, but the rookie has reached the stage where his coach clearly believes there are bigger fish to fry.

Get ready for playoff Thon.