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PODCAST: Giannis and Jabari’s scoring upside, missing Middleton, Thon Maker’s spirit animal

Milwaukee Bucks v Chicago Bulls Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

NBA regular season basketball may still be four weeks away, but we’re just two days away from getting our first taste of what the 16/17 Milwaukee Bucks will look like on a basketball court. Having spent the first week of training camp in Madison, the Bucks return home to the BMO Harris Bradley Center for their annual free open scrimmage and fan fest at 12:30 on Sunday, followed by their preseason opener 24 hours later in Chicago against the Bulls (NBATV, 7 pm CT).

With real live basketball on the horizon, we made our Thursday night podcast a listener mailbag, taking questions on Twitter about a range of topics:

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  • Maker Movement. One day after suffering a sprained wrist in practice, Bucks’ lottery pick Thon Maker returned to Madison with a wrist guard on Thursday, though his status for Sunday and Monday remain in doubt. He was also a popular topic in our mailbag, with questions ranging from how much he’ll play to what his spirit animal should be. Eric went with an eagle of some sort and I lazily went with a gazelle, though I think Jonathan Zuckerbrod had the best answer (for his own question):

As for the question of minutes, there’s probably not much obvious room for Maker in the rotation right now, but that would change quickly if the Bucks traded one of their big men. Besides, Jason Kidd has shown a recurring fondness for playing young guys over the years, and it’s not trivial that both Kidd and John Hammond have suggested he’ll be a rotation guy this season. While he remains decidedly raw offensively, his defensive tools will give him a good chance at seeing the court.

  • Missing Middleton. We’ve already done our share of moping about Khris Middleton’s injury, and predictably Middleton was a recurring theme for a number of questions. The one silver lining is that Middleton’s absence will almost certainly mean bigger scoring numbers for Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker, and who doesn’t love young guys putting up big numbers??? Eric makes the case for why it’s reasonable to expect both to break the 20 point per game mark this season -- after all, someone has to score, especially if Greg Monroe initially comes off the bench (and potentially is dealt before the season is over). While the Bucks weren’t any good with Middleton on the bench, it is worth noting that Giannis scored more (19.9 pts/36) and with higher efficiency (60.8% true shooting) without Khris (vs. 16.3 pts/36 and 55.7% with).