After a surprising rookie campaign for the Milwaukee Bucks, center Thon Maker has struggled mightily to start the 2017-18 NBA season. Is he in the dreaded, sophomore slump?
Maker is undoubtedly a huge piece of what the Milwaukee Bucks are doing, but he has not shown the same flashes this season as he did last year. Everything this season seems to be a step slower for Thon. He even lost his starting job to fellow center John Henson.
The biggest knock on him this season is his inability to rebound. In 17 minutes per game this season, Maker is averaging a partly 2.4 rebounds per game. He’s averaging an even less encouraging 5.1 rebounds per game per 36 minutes. Last season, Maker did a terrific job using his 7’1″ frame and 7’4″ wingspan to put himself in a position to grab a rebound. This season, however, Maker is getting absolutely mauled by opposing big men. Thon noticeably bulked up in the offseason, but he still has a long way to go in order to battle with the best down low.
He has struggled this season against the likes of Dwight Howard, Andre Drummond, Jusuf Nurkic, Steven Adams and Kevin Love. Whenever Maker is on the floor, the opponents attack the paint because they are well aware of his deficiencies this season.
Thon currently has an underwhelming -15.7 net rating in 137 minutes played this season, and the Milwaukee Bucks are +5.9 points per 100 possessions when he is off the floor.
The one consistent aspect of Maker’s game thus far has been his serviceable three-point shooting. He is shooting a decent 35% from three in 2.5 tries per contest. He just doesn’t seem to have the same impact on the game than he did last season.
Maker caught many teams by surprise last season when he was entered into the starting lineup towards the second half of the season. Opposing teams wouldn’t draw up a scheme for him, which led to a bevy of open three-pointers. Opponents seemed timid of attacking Thon Maker on defense, but the script has flipped this season.
We are now seeing opposing teams making adjustments to attack Maker on both ends of the floor, more noticeably on the defensive end. The NBA is a game of adjustments, and rest assured, Thon Maker will make adjustments on how to attack opponents as the season goes on.
With 6th man center Greg Monroe shipped out to Phoenix, this is a golden opportunity for Thon Maker. His struggles have not sat well with Bucks fans, but let’s remember, he’s only 20 years old. Milwaukee doesn’t have any option but to ride out the storm.
Thon is a terrific young talent, but we must be patient. His struggles this season should not come as a surprise to anyone. We are only 10 games into the season, there is still plenty of time left for Thon Maker to right the ship.
With the acquisition of former Suns point guard Eric Bledsoe, this should open up even more three-point looks for Thon. He is a terrific corner three-point shooter, and with Bledsoe always in attack mode, look for E-Bled to dish it out to Thon for what should be open threes.