Detroit Pistons: Thon Maker Sets Intriguing Tone in First Season with Pistons

Detroit Pistons Thon Maker. (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Thon Maker. (Photo by Brian Sevald/NBAE via Getty Images) /

Thon Maker, in his first season with the Detroit Pistons, suffered some ups and downs as his stint leaves questions about his future with the franchise.

When the Detroit Pistons agreed to a trade that moved Pistons’ wing Stanley Johnson to the Milwaukee Bucks and brought Thon Maker to Motown – at least for me – there was a light in the personnel switch. Although the Pistons lost a strong defensive candidate for their rotations, the team subsequently acquired a forward/center who was primed to hit the reset button after he had reportedly requested a trade from the organization who drafted him.

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The series against the Milwaukee Bucks hit the red button on the Detroit Pistons’ season as the squad was swept out of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. But, that’s not where the buck stops for Maker’s newfound relationship with the Pistons’ organization.

Thon Maker’s abilities range further than the box score. I can admit that his inconsistencies earn a certain pause. In the NBA, there are vantage points beyond the numbers game. It’s unfair to assume that there are Association players that lack effort. There are players in the league that incorporate a higher level in their games.

Thon Maker is one of those players whose value cannot be adequately quantified because of the labor he puts in. In his second night out with the Detroit Pistons, he walked away with a +15-net rating for the night, but more notably a bloody lip after a block on Washington Wizards Bobby Portis that inaugurated him as one of our own.

To invoke recent memory, let’s take a trip back to the first-round matchup between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Detroit Pistons.

Maker had a tough task guarding Giannis Antetokounmpo, plainly stated. Anyone would (See Eastern Conference Semifinals). The MVP candidate charges with an urgency, body mass and skill that elevates him past many of the one-up defenses teams attempt to run. It must be accounted that he refused to back down from the assignment. In the very first game, where a strong denial from the forward/center produced a Giannis-yammer in the Milwaukee offensive possession that ensued, Maker appeared to understand that it was to be expected.

By reason, there is no way to keep a lid on the Greek product for an entire game, but to be in position consistently allows the opportunity to be effective. It is a symbol of his game that stands true and has only seemed to improve in his time with the Pistons as an advancing rim protector.

The downfall to his game for the Detroit Pistons came in the form of his lack of scoring. His initial gripe with the Bucks came due to his deteriorating role on the floor. The coaching staff had a reason.

Thon Maker averaged 14.4 points per-36 minutes before he made the exit from Milwaukee and dropped to 10.2 as  Pistons’ player this season. The three-point shooting that was expected to become familiar in Detroit’s rotation yielded 29 games in the regular season with a Per-36 long-ball clip of 30.7 percent, which worse than the 33.3 percent he shot in three-pointers with Milwaukee.

The aim for the Detroit Pistons is to harness the talent that is both capable and willing shooters from the perimeter.

I would not suggest Thon Maker should have put up three-point buckets like Brook Lopez this year for Milwaukee or allow teams to dictate the use of the shot in his game, as center Joel Embiid occasionally does.

Working through a new playbook and new peers bring about obvious struggles. There is much room for improvement if Maker is to contribute to that fraction of Detroit’s game plan.

As the Detroit Pistons plan their seasons after this year’s disappointing end, the decision if Thon Maker should remain in the Motor City will rely on what player the Detroit Pistons desire him to be and how long the franchise is willing to wait for that dream to come to fruition.

At 22 years old, Maker has the potential to be a notable forward/centerpiece of the puzzle for the city. You can’t teach 7’1.

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Let’s see if the Pistons can develop Maker or if he will be another byproduct of a team in transition.