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Three Bs: Thon Maker

NBA: Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to Brew Hoop’s entirely subjective and emotionally-driven 2017-18 Milwaukee Bucks season player evaluations. For this series, we wanted to look at each current Buck and ask three questions: what they do that helps (Boon), what they do that hurts (Bane), and whether they ought to be on this team (Belonging).

I had a cool logo featuring a trio of Bs, but got a “cease and desist” notice from a lawyer wearing $200 flip flops. Oh well. Today, we’re looking at Thon Maker, who crashed back to earth after an encouraging stretch of play in 2017.

Season Stats (per 36 minutes – rank at position)

  • Points/36: 10.4 (83rd among centers)
  • Rebounds/36: 6.5 (91st among centers)
  • Blocks/36: 1.5 (42nd among centers)
  • Fouls/36: 4.7 (25th among centers)
  • 3Pt%: 0.298 (34th among centers)

Thon’s Boon: Theoretical Impact

You could not ask for a better type of player to man the center position for these Milwaukee Bucks. Thon Maker has the reach, the length, the mobility, and the outside touch to stretch the floor on offense, shut down openings on defense, and generally confound adversaries who try to account for his unique skillset in concert with the Bucks’ other impact players. While still raw, Thon has the makeup of a basketball unicorn, possessing that “high ceiling” game that fans dream of and opponents dread.

Thon’s Bane: Physical Presence

The trouble with unicorns? When you discover that they don’t exist, you end up disappointed, just like fans were in Thon’s sophomore season. While accounting for his youth and his lack of bulk, Maker was still pushed around like a high school sophomore in gym class with a group of unruly seniors. Thon’s lack of strength undermines everything he’s supposed to do, particularly on defense and on the glass. Is being able to dart back and forth worthwhile when the opposing small forward can move you off your spot at will?

Does Thon Belong?

If Thon Maker is going to be an NBA player, he needs to be a member of the Milwaukee Bucks. He unlocks too many options for this not to be the case. The trouble is that there is no clear indication that the former statement will hold true. Thon was miserable in the regular season and had fallen out of the rotation, but when Joe Prunty (finally) implemented switching into the Bucks’ playoffs defense, Thon became a lynchpin of the Bucks’ success. His size, speed, work ethic, and shooting ability all make him an outstanding prospect at the center position with Milwaukee’s group of rim-attacking wings...but the trouble with prospects is that they either become something more or simply fade into obscurity. Nobody wants to see the latter happen to Thon, who is barely 21 years old and has a ton of time to continue to develop. The Bucks have time, but not much; how long will Thon take?