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Brew Hoop Season Review: Greg Monroe, Thon Maker and John Henson

Besides John Henson, the Bucks’ big men showed out with largely promising seasons

NBA: Milwaukee Bucks at Oklahoma City Thunder Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve reached the conclusion of our final Bucks season review as we break down the most bloated position on Milwaukee’s roster: center. We clumped Spencer Hawes in with Teletovic and Beasley for the sake of symmetry, but we know he played as a center in almost all his minutes with Milwaukee this year. Regardless, here’s how the staff’s opinions shook out on the Bucks’ big men this year.

Thon Maker

Maker Season Stats

Thon Maker MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% eFG% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS/G
Thon Maker MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% eFG% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS/G
Per Game 9.9 1.5 3.2 0.459 0.5 1.3 0.378 1 1.9 0.514 0.536 0.6 0.9 0.653 0.7 1.3 2 0.4 0.2 0.5 0.3 1.5 4
Per 36 562 5.3 11.6 0.459 1.8 4.7 0.378 3.5 6.9 0.514 0.536 2 3.1 0.653 2.6 4.7 7.3 1.5 0.6 1.7 1.1 5.4 14.5
Advanced G PER TS% 3PAr FTr ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% OWS DWS WS WS/48 OBPM DBPM BPM VORP
57 14 0.558 0.409 0.271 8.4 15.2 11.8 6.2 0.9 4.1 7.7 17.8 0.8 0.5 1.3 0.113 -0.5 -1 -1.5 0.1

Synopsis:

It was hard to even carve out expectations for Maker coming into this season given how little we knew about him. What little tape we had came from him in high school, and his summer league performances offered glimpses, but he faded as those games went on. As it was, almost any contribution from Maker seemed like it would be welcome to this Bucks team. When he finally got playing time, he flashed the ability to shoot threes at an elite rate, a quality which waned as the season went.

Despite that, several more important skills perked up. His dunking off two feet no longer looked like it was in doubt the ball would get over the lip of the rim. He flashed plenty of defensive acumen and ability, swatting away shots at the rim and hedging/recovering to the basket on pick-and-rolls. He even finished through traffic a few times and found smart passing lanes to exploit in the Toronto series. By the end of the year, fans had seen at least a glimpse of every skill one could have only hoped for in your dream scenario for Maker. He remains very much a work in progress, who must acclimate his body to consistent pounding next season. Milwaukee played him at center from jump, and it paid off this year.

Staff Grades

Offense Defense Improvement Fit Going Forward Overall Season
Offense Defense Improvement Fit Going Forward Overall Season
4.3 6.9 8.4 9.65 8.55

Adam: The fact Maker gave them anything this year exceeded my expectations. His flashes in the playoffs were wholly encouraging, although whether he can withstand a full year’s beating in the post will be his biggest question mark. His 3-point ability waned, but I was more enticed by the defensive, finishing and brief passing skills he flashed in the postseason.

Mitchell: OK, look, I kind of hated the Maker pick last June, but I have come all the way around. Thon has a long way to go, but his combination of energy, shooting, and length are a near-perfect complement for what Giannis needs from a teammate. There’s no reason why Thon can’t make a Giannis-esque leap in the next two years (in terms of degree of improvement and overall impact), and Milwaukee will have unlocked something formidable.

Gabe: Add me to the list of Thon surprising me this season. Initially, I thought he was going to be a clumsy oaf out on the court. I never expected him to be so lateral and quick. Add that in with his defense, shooting, and energy (both on the court and bench), he’s going to be something special. My goal for him this offseason is to get bigger and stronger. Not only in the arms, but legs. Imagine DeAndre Body’s muscle on Thon Maker. Yeah. That’d be pretty cool.

Riley: Came in expecting the absolute worst, left feeling like John Hammond struck gold again. Thon has quite a bit of work to do in the off-season regarding strength and integrating within the team system, but the sky is the limit for Maker heading forward.

Greg Monroe

Monroe Season Stats

Greg Monroe MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% eFG% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS/G
Greg Monroe MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% eFG% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS/G
Per Game 22.5 4.8 9 0.532 0 0 0 4.8 8.9 0.535 0.532 2.2 3 0.741 2 4.5 6.6 2.3 1.1 0.5 1.7 2.1 11.7
Per 36 1823 7.6 14.4 0.532 0 0.1 0 7.6 14.3 0.535 0.532 3.5 4.7 0.741 3.3 7.2 10.5 3.7 1.8 0.8 2.8 3.3 18.8
Advanced G PER TS% 3PAr FTr ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% OWS DWS WS WS/48 OBPM DBPM BPM VORP
81 21.1 0.571 0.006 0.329 10.7 23.1 17 17.3 2.6 1.8 14.4 24.3 2.9 2.6 5.5 0.146 0.5 1.5 2 1.9

Synopsis:

An outcast left for trade bait following last season, Greg Monroe’s image and oncourt revival among Bucks fans was remarkable. Not only did Monroe embrace a sixth man role wholeheartedly (despite that weird period where Kidd inexplicably benched him), but he put up career Per-36 numbers. Whether that was due to playing harder in his limited minutes is something he tends to refute, but Monroe worked his ass off defensively this season.

His improvement from dead weight to simply subsisting was an impressive development. While he was prone to get jobbed on a pick-and-roll and still couldn’t offer much in the way of rim protection, he navigated the scheme with far more skill. He also poked away balls for a career-high steal rate, and remained a consistent scoring presence in the post. His ability to vacate and occupy space on pick-and-rolls with Brogdon and Middleton was impressive. What he chooses to do this offseason will be one of the Bucks first dominos to topple.

Staff Grades

Offense Defense Improvement Fit Going Forward Overall Season
Offense Defense Improvement Fit Going Forward Overall Season
8.1 5.68 9.08 7.14 7.88

Adam: Considering Monroe ended last year as a scapegoat whom most Bucks fans wanted dismissed from Milwaukee’s premises, he had a pretty damn good season. Adjusting to the bench role was a mighty large pill to swallow, but he took it in stride and emerged as a leader. His defensive improvement was encouraging, and I’ll be a little wistful should he choose to go elsewhere. Also, I think this team would miss him more than people think.

Mitchell: Moose quickly became one of my favorite Bucks this season. Not only did he embrace a lesser role, he remained an effective scorer and rebounder, showed off his passing chops, and took up the torch left by O.J. Mayo as “Teammate Most Willing To Scrap For Giannis.” I don’t know how to reconcile the money if Monroe does decide to opt out, but I want to keep him around.

Gabe: I never really understood the hate towards Moose. Sure, he might not be the best defender, but we knew that before he signed the contract. We also knew that he could score the basketball, and he did that (again) for the Bucks this season. He’s a double-double machine for the Bucks and if that was absent from the lineup, we’d notice. Coupled with his style of play is how he stands up for his teammates. Like Mitchell said, he took O.J.’s torch of sticking up for his brothers. I’ll also add the story of when we (the media) had to wait for him to do his postgame interview after Jabari’s injury (he was wiping tears out of his eyes). That got me right in the feels.

Adam: I changed my mind, after that story from Gabe, I’m already wistful and tearing up.

John Henson

Henson Season Stats

John Henson MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% eFG% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS/G
John Henson MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% eFG% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS/G
Per Game 19.4 2.7 5.3 0.513 0 0 0 2.7 5.3 0.515 0.513 1.3 1.8 0.692 1.6 3.5 5.1 1 0.5 1.3 0.9 2.6 6.8
Per 36 1123 5.1 9.9 0.513 0 0 0 5.1 9.9 0.515 0.513 2.4 3.4 0.692 2.9 6.5 9.5 1.8 0.9 2.5 1.7 4.8 12.6
Advanced G PER TS% 3PAr FTr ORB% DRB% TRB% AST% STL% BLK% TOV% USG% OWS DWS WS WS/48 OBPM DBPM BPM VORP
58 15.2 0.549 0.003 0.345 9.7 20.8 15.3 7.7 1.3 6.1 12.9 16.7 1.1 1.6 2.7 0.114 -2.6 2.4 -0.1 0.5

Synopsis:

Henson came in as an odd man out with a center rotation that included the 12.5 million dollar man Miles Plumlee, the max man Greg Monroe and the mystery man, Thon Maker. I think that probably makes Henson the mediocre man, and he steered sharply into that description this year. He started a string of games early in the season after Plumlee proved ineffective, but Milwaukee rarely sported a positive plus-minus with Henson on the floor. He also went through an odd string of consecutive games where he attempted a jump shot, after rarely attempting any to this point in his career.

Unfortunately, the gaudy rim protection statistics of last year didn’t hold, and he fell from the upper echelon of rim rejectors. The usual lefty hook around the rim remains his go-to move, and he still hasn’t shown any ability to adapt and shoot from the other side. He was also the third-highest paid player on the roster this season after Plumlee was traded, in case you’re curious how resources were allocated this year. A lost season for Henson goes in the books.

Staff Grades

Offense Defense Improvement Fit Going Forward Overall Season
Offense Defense Improvement Fit Going Forward Overall Season
2.28 3.24 0.35 1 1

Adam: Henson added more names to the list of Centers who got minutes over him that he whispers before bed. “Spencer Hawes, Thon Maker.” At least he wasn’t beat out during Roy Hibbert’s brief stint with the team. Henson did his usual left-handed hookery with the same level of average success as years past. Why he went on a jump shooting spree remains a mystery, and his rim protection numbers left much to be desired. At this point, if he wants any playing time, he has to be hoping Monroe and Hawes both opt out and don’t return.

Mitchell: * stares blankly *

I guess he did block a few shots.

Gabe: Did he give away free Qdoba tacos to fans waiting outside the arena for playoff tickets again? If so, that was probably his biggest contribution of the year.