Milwaukee Bucks: Will Thon Maker improve his shooting?

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 28: (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - APRIL 28: (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Having shown flashes of potential through his first two seasons with the Milwaukee Bucks, can Thon Maker improve and find shooting consistency next season?

As he prepares to enter his third season with the Milwaukee Bucks, there’s still more than an air of uncertainty surrounding Thon Maker’s current and potential future ability.

Outside of well-timed bursts in the playoffs that bring discussions of his impact and potential long-term importance to the franchise back to the fore, it’s fair to say Maker has been inconsistent and generally underwhelming during his time as a Buck.

That’s by no means a damning criticism for a player who was drafted as something of a project pick, with an incredibly raw mix of skills and physical abilities. Still, the reality is the time for more reliable production from Maker has now arrived.

More from Bucks News

Reaching the point in his career where the Bucks will have to start considering the decisions they’ll make on the options for the final years of his rookie deal puts a certain pressure on the 21-year-old. At the very least, it could be described as a new-found urgency to establish himself.

If there’s one thing the Australian has shown up until this point in his still young career, it’s that he can cause havoc on the defensive end with his length and unrelenting energy. Maker stands as a wildcard on the defensive end who may not end up as a staple of Mike Budenholzer’s new scheme, but certainly offers value as a break glass in case of emergency kind of option.

While Maker’s defense is currently his most tangible contribution when he takes to the floor, the key to unlocking a truly substantial role remains on the offensive end of the court.

The appeal of Maker comes in the form of a player who boasts the traditional height of a more old-fashioned center, but with the abilities of a much smaller, skill-based player. That sounds great in theory, but unfortunately much of that remains theoretical until Maker proves he can knock down shots consistently.

In particular, establishing real three-point range is essential for Maker. Through two seasons, he’s attempted 178 shots from deep, making 33.1 percent of them. Of course, he could be further along in his development in that department if not for the influence of former coach Jason Kidd.

Much like he had done previously with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, Kidd urged Maker to seek out mid-range shots rather than three-pointers early last season. As detailed at the time by Matt Velazquez of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

"“Maker, who went 4 of 6 on shots between 10 and 22 feet on Wednesday night as part of his career-high 16-point effort, didn’t come to the decision to move in on his own. It’s something that’s been mentioned to him recently and was hammered home on Tuesday in a meeting with Kidd.‘We had a nice, long talk about it,’ Maker said.That meeting consisted of Kidd showing Maker his stats from around the floor and explaining that his most effective spots are in the midrange areas. Those are the spots he needs to get to rather than automatically just spacing out to the three-point line.”"

Not only did that adjustment run counter to everything a big man should be working on in 2018, but it was also based on a rudimentary misunderstanding of the value of a three-point shot.

Maker stepping in not only potentially curtailed the speed of his development from beyond the arc, but reduced the space for his teammates to drive to the rim. On a team with players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Eric Bledsoe, that’s incredibly detrimental.

It’s for that reason that there should be optimism for Maker to improve his shooting in the coming season, as Budenholzer is known for pushing his big men to shoot from distance and spread the floor out.

Beyond that, assistant coach Ben Sullivan has also built up a strong reputation for his work with players on their shooting form, creating room for Maker’s stroke to become a little more steady too.

Next. Bucks: Dreaming of a long overdue 50-win season. dark

Whether Maker can develop into a really consistent three-point shooter over the course of his career remains to be seen, but at the very least it seems he should be afforded a greater opportunity to fine tune and work on that element of his game with the Bucks next season.