After the draft, ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote that the Bucks drafting Thon Maker was “probably the biggest surprise of the draft.” Although, in hindsight, the Maker selection fits in with the Bucks’ recent methods. Swinging for the fences with late lottery picks on high upside players has become a nice little way for the Bucks to improve their roster. Never a big player in free agency, odds are they will need to draft their superstars. Giannis Antetokounmpo is a top-10 player in the NBA and was selected with the 15th pick in the draft.
The Bucks drafted Maker in hopes of lightning striking twice, and to be honest, after one season it is so far, so good. Thon Maker is on his way to being a great player in the league.
Whilst only averaging 10 minutes a game during the regular season, that doubled in the playoffs. Maker was an impactful player in the Bucks’ playoff series against Toronto. Coach, Jason Kidd trusting a rookie to play twenty minutes of playoff basketball is a positive sign. Maker showed great defensive nous throughout the series, averaging nearly two blocks a game, some of which came in key moments. His block on Kyle Lowry helped swing the first match of the series.
Whilst it is true, Thon is still a very raw prospect who is slight in frame. He is already making a contribution for the Bucks. Throughout the regular season, Maker helped the Bucks to a better defensive rating and a better net rating.
Offensively, Maker is not yet big enough to have his way in the paint. Although, with his extreme length, if Maker could develop a hook shot or a post fadeaway, his game will have that balance required at the top level. However, he is a solid shooter for his size and his three-point shot is a legitimate threat. His floor spacing helps the Bucks, and the team shoots more threes with him on the court. Maker is already one of the best shooters Kidd has at his disposal. He needs to be constantly guarded, even in pressure situations, as the Raptors found out.
His first step to further improvement is to put on some more weight to stop getting bullied by the bigger bodies. Traditional centers can easily box him out at present, leading to a very poor rebounding percentage. From there, development of the aforementioned hook shot is in order.
It would be a game person to bet against Maker taking those steps and succeeding at the highest level. His attitude has been commended with Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, and Jason Terry praising him in a feature article from Bleacher Report earlier this year. Additionally, in the same article, Maker spoke about his future with the confidence and assurance of a man destined for great things.
Thon Maker: “I’m going to be an All-Star,” Maker says. “I’m going to be a champion. Not just one, multiple times. I’m going to be an MVP. I’m going to be Defensive Player of the Year. Not just once, multiple times. … And the rings part is the biggest one for me. And the Hall of Fame part.”
As far as rookie seasons go, the Bucks could not have asked for more from the young Australian. The starting job is seemingly his to lose at the present, and if his development continues it will be his long into the future.