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Thon Maker turns heads in Vegas, Giannis Antetokounmpo starts (very brief) military stint

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After losing their last two games, Thon Maker and the Vegas Bucks begin elimination play in the Vegas Summer League tournament bracket tonight at 9 pm CT vs. Dallas on ESPN2 and WatchESPN. The Bucks will have at least one more game thereafter regardless of whether they win or lose, with the finals next Monday. Related: as someone who had to schedule his annual Vegas pilgrimage for the second weekend, I was thrilled that I had to book my flight when I had no idea about when the Bucks might actually be playing. And so it goes.

More from Vegas:

Bucks hope to have struck gold with Maker | SB Nation
Mike Prada's profile of Maker from Vegas has some great quotes from both John Hammond and Sean Sweeney about how the Bucks are trying to develop Thon's body and game:

The Bucks are trying to build Maker a curriculum of coverages, angles and tricks that he can master and then vocalize with teammates. They want him to understand how to play so he can properly channel his effort. They also know it is easier to play with force when the muscles are actually equipped to provide more force. It's a virtuous cycle.

"When you talk about basketball, you're thinking knowledge and positioning first," Bucks assistant coach Sean Sweeney said. "Then, you're thinking effort and intensity. Then, you're thinking teamwork. Then, you're thinking your skill set."

Tjarks: Observations from Summer League | The Ringer
Jonathan Tjarks lays out the good and bad of Maker's first week of (sorta) NBA action:

"Ambitious" is probably the best way to describe Thon's game. He tries every shot in the book on offense and wants to block every shot on defense. He went 2-for-10 from 3 in his first three games, and committed 20 fouls, fouling out in a game against the Grizzlies. He wants to push the ball off misses, he wants to take guys off the dribble, and he's unafraid of shooting over the top of multiple defenders in the lane. If he could pull off half of the things he tried in Vegas, he would probably have been worth a top-five pick.

When he stayed within himself, though, it's easy to see why the Bucks were so high on him. His mere presence on the floor impacts the game, and he's a terror on the glass, averaging 12 rebounds through his first three games. He's a great catch-and-finish player around the rim, and he should be a very interesting pick-and-roll partner for Giannis. It's unclear whether he will be able to play right away, but he could be a difference maker in a defined role that doesn't ask him to do too much on either side of the ball.

Thanks to commenter (not movie star) BrendanFraser for the heads up!

Bucks' Maker trying to get out of comfort zone | NBA.com
Steve Aschburner's Maker story includes some interesting Maker quotes AND a 'Tosa reference.

"I needed to be uncomfortable now. I need to come back like the first game," Maker said.

"They didn't want me to get any rebounds. They definitely had been watching our previous games, so that's how they play. I'm glad that game happened that way. Now I'll know what to expect next time."

Rating who won and who lost in the NBA's free-agency period
Zach Lowe's latest picks winners and losers -- and look who made the winners pile!

The Bucks entered free agency with a fascinating vision: screw traditional point guards, sign a wing capable of defending them and go super-stretchy with Giannis Antetokounmpo playing the role on offense. They went hard after Kent Bazemore as their fifth starter, and settled for a reasonable deal on a smaller version of that player in Matthew Dellavedova. The price was rich, but if Delly hits about 40 percent from deep for one of the league's brickiest teams, the Bucks will be thrilled.

I've been on record supporting the idea of playing an off-ball point guard next to Giannis, and on that topic it's important to underscore the roster-building value that this approach might have. While there aren't any guarantees that Point Giannis can eventually lead the Bucks to contention without a high-priced traditional point in the backcourt, a big part of the appeal is that it gives you a bunch of extra money to spend on your other positions. Absent Point Giannis, the Bucks probably would be in the market for a high-priced point who might eventually cost $20+ million; hell, the good-but-not-great Mike Conley is making $30 million a year for the next five years.

To be clear, no one is saying Matthew Dellavedova (or Jerryd Bayless before him) are as good as Conley, but they might be good enough when paired with a dynamic ball-handling big guy like Giannis. So as we wait for Giannis to sign his $138 million max extension, remember that he might also be saving the Bucks $10-20 million in money they don't have to spend at the point.

Giannis and Thanasis Antetokounmpo begin mandatory military stint | WTMJ
There was a brief moment of confusion yesterday when reports from Greece suggested the Antetokounbros might be starting a three-month obligation with the Greek army this summer. Fortunately, they're likely to only spend a few days meeting their mandatory military requirement, which apparently is usually, you know, relaxed for star athletes.

UPDATE: Smile, Giannis!