Better Late Than Never: Thon Maker’s 2018 Emergence


Will Thon Maker ever be an All-Star? Most likely, no.

But could he be an effective spark off of the bench in the Milwaukee Bucks rotation? That answer is yes.

Maker has been one of the most puzzling players for Bucks fans to watch over the past season and a half. Not only has the young seven footer from Sudan been inconsistent, but he has also shown a lack of confidence in his game and athleticism at times.

From hesitating to take his jumper, to opting for soft layups over a hard dunk — it has been nothing but frustrating at times to watch the 20 year old grow as an NBA player.

But thankfully, all of the hard work with the Bucks coaching staff and private workouts with Kevin Garnett are beginning to pay off. Although the skinny center has only averaged 4.9 points and 3.5 rebounds per game this season, the growth of Maker over the past few weeks has been very intriguing.

Before Thursday night’s loss to Denver, over a six game span Maker was averaging just over nine points and posting a positive plus/minus while on the floor in four of the six contests. This stretch of games also includes a +26 showing in a win over the Knicks earlier this month.

The seven footer is also shooting over 63% from the field (37.5% from three) during this stretch, and has posted an outstanding offensive rating of 133. To show you how solid Thon has been offensively during this stretch, Giannis Antetokounmpo has had an offensive rating of 118 this season.

What Maker has brought to the floor over the past few weeks is simply intensity. Not only is he flying around on defense altering shots, grabbing rebounds, and running stride for stride with smaller players on fast breaks, but he also has become more confident in his shot and ability to drive to the hoop.

Too many times early this season Bucks guards penetrated to the basket and kicked to Maker for an open mid-range, only for him to hesitate prior to his shot and end up missing the jumper. But over the past few games, the key for Maker has been the confidence in his jumper. When Eric Bledsoe has driven to the hoop and passed the ball out to the seven footer he no longer hesitates. Instead it’s catch and shoot, catch and go to the basket, or even catch and dish to a cutting Jabari Parker for a dunk.

Maker is not a starting center in the league yet, and by no means should he be seen as a big time bench threat either — but his role on this Bucks team is vital to their success.

Some believe the confidence is coming from his work with new Bucks assistant coach Vin Baker who is working primarily with Maker during practices, while others are hoping it’s just a sign of the 20 year old finally settling in for the season.

Whatever this offensive surge may be it has been welcomed with open arms by the Bucks, a team struggling to find scoring from their bench. However, with the return of Jabari Parker, more minutes for Sterling Brown, and hopefully continued confidence in Maker — the Bucks may have just what they need to make a second half run.


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