Teammate's injury may be the making of Thon
BASKETBALL: Thon Maker's NBA stocks are set to sore with the Australian rookie given the chance to lock down a regular starting role at Milwaukee for the rest of the season.
The 216cm 19-year-old has been eased into life as an NBA player by the Bucks this season, with the number 10 draft pick starting just three games prior to Friday.
He's averaged 5.7 minutes per game this season - numbers which have been slowly increasing as Maker added extra bulk to his frame: he's notched 9.1 minutes per game across his past 10.
But that gentle approach has been rocked by the devastating ACL injury suffered by rising star Jabari Parker, who will be sidelined until next season.
Maker was given first crack at the power forward spot opened up by the injury to Parker and made a solid contribution in a 122-114 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers - including a strong dunk and a sweet stroke from downtown.
Maker played 17 minutes, scoring seven points, grabbing six rebounds and picking up an assist as coach Jason Kidd shared the power forward duties around.
For the most part, Maker has struggled to nail down consistent minutes on the court but Kidd expressed confidence in what he could add for the rest of the season.
"We can always count on Maker to come with energy," Kidd said.
"He's going to make some mistakes but we can live with those.
"His intent is right. With Giannis (Antetokounmpo) feeding off that energy and (John) Henson and Delly (Matthew Dellavedova) and Tony (Snell), we need that kind of fight."
Nobody would call Maker a like-for-like replacement for the high-flying Parker, but Kidd isn't expecting anyone to be able to replace the 2014 second overall pick.
"Jabari is a special player. We're not asking anybody to score 20. We've got to do it by committee," Kidd said.
But the Australian does bring with him certain qualities which excite the Bucks - even if they will come with the occasional overenthusiastic error.
"(Maker) is going to run. He can run with the best of them, and he can shoot for a big," Kidd added.
"He's prepared. He's still going to make some mistakes but that just happens.
"That's the beauty of Maker. Nothing in the game of basketball is about being perfect.
"It's about what do you do when you make that mistake. You keep playing with high energy and that's what he does."