Thon Maker working out with Giannis Antetokounmpo is good for the Milwaukee Bucks

MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 22: Giannis Antetokounmpo
MILWAUKEE, WI - APRIL 22: Giannis Antetokounmpo /

Thon Maker is skipping the rest of the Milwaukee Bucks Summer League games to work out with Giannis Antetokounmpo, which is a pretty smart move.

Thon Maker did not start out strong in Las Vegas. The Milwaukee Bucks Summer League team is 1-1 after beating the Brooklyn Nets SL team on Sunday evening, although it was Rashad Vaughn, not Thon, who was the big hero on Sunday.

After the game during a media availability, Thon revealed that he wouldn’t be sticking around for the rest of the Bucks Summer League games, as he would instead fly back to Milwaukee to work out with Giannis Antetokounmpo.

As important as it is to get game reps, something Thon himself talks about at the beginning of the linked video, for some of the reasons also covered in said video Summer League isn’t really all that useful.

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A group of players who came together a week or so ago have to learn how to play with each other in time to play five-plus games. Then, they split up, with only a few of them likely to be on the same NBA team.

Summer League, as fun as it is because there’s just no NBA basketball to watch right now besides it, doesn’t mean all that much. Malcolm Brogdon averaged barely 10 points in over 35 minutes per game last year during Summer League, and he ended up winning Rookie of the Year honors.

Thon was struggling through the first two games this season. He, and the Bucks coaching staff, decided instead of wasting more time in Las Vegas he should do something to address the problems he was having. Thon got pushed around quite a bit, especially against Edy Tavares and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Who better to work out with Thon and get him ready for next season than a long, formerly lanky guy like Giannis? Making comparisons between Giannis the player and Thon the player isn’t wise because Giannis is so damn good, but comparing the two based on the fact that both of them were drafted as towering beanpoles does carry some merit.

Giannis certainly isn’t lanky anymore. The Greek Freak is stronger than ever, and that shows in his tenacious drives to the rim. As much as Giannis’ gyrostep allows him to finesse his way to the rim, his strength helps him to go straight through defenders when he needs to.

As a center, Thon needs that strength increase badly. His ability to stretch the floor is incredibly useful, and he’s long and springy enough to block shots, but bigger centers often bully Thon when it comes to rebounds and low-post positioning.

Thon will never be as big as centers like Marc Gasol or DeMarcus Cousins, but that’s a good thing. The upside of having a center who can hang down low but also has the guard skills to shoot and dribble, plus switch onto smaller players, is tremendous.

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That’s the perfect center for Team All-Length. Thon has already shown his strengths make up for his weaknesses–the Bucks were 1.3 points per 100 possessions better than opposing teams with him on the floor last season.

Now it’s time to steadily improve both his mental game and what the potential unicorn can do physically. That process can take time, and what Thon showed last season alone is more than enough to brush aside a couple of stinkers in Las Vegas.

Working out with and playing one-on-one against Giannis should be fantastic for Thon. Milwaukee’s two lengthy seven-footers will have to be good for the Bucks to be good, considering the lack of flexibility the team has financially right now.

This is the right move for both players. Summer League is a fun distraction, but as a starter Thon doesn’t really have anything to prove there. Putting in work with Giannis is what’s best for the Milwaukee Bucks going forward–if only the games between those two were televised!