Bucks’ Thon Maker finding his shot

Welcome to the 2017-18 edition of the Young Bucks Tracker. This year, we’re taking a different tact. With Milwaukee now having a G League franchise, the Wisconsin Herd, each Thursday we’ll either track the progress of the players who might be of help to the Bucks in the future or a current member of the Milwaukee roster. We’ll also give updates on the other young players from the previous week.

This is the 12th edition of the 2017-18 Young Bucks Tracker.

(Note: The tracker will return in two weeks, taking next week off due to the All-Star break)

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SPOTLIGHT ON …

Center/forward Thon Maker

It’s a short sample size and we’ve seen indications previously, but perhaps Maker is starting to figure this thing out. Especially shooting the basketball.

Given an opportunity with John Henson banged up, Maker got two starts last week. In those contests, he made 10 of 15 shots (66.7 percent), including 2 of 5 of his 3 attempts, scoring 13 and 12 points. Maker had just five double-digit scoring games in his previous 54 games.

Maker made 4 of 5 shots in Milwaukee’s other game last week, at Miami. This has become something of a trend.

Over his last six games, Maker has made 63.6 percent of his field-goal attempts and 37.5 percent of his 3-point attempts. His true shooting percentage over that span is 68.6 percent and his offensive rating is an incredible 133 while his defensive rating is a very good 103. For reference, Giannis Antetokounmpo leads Bucks regulars in offensive (118) and defensive (105) ratings, while on the season no one in the NBA has a higher ORtg than 128.2 and only 13 have a lower DRtg.

Up to that point in the season, Maker was making only 38.3 percent of his shots and 31.3 percent of his 3s with a 47.8 true shooting percentage, while he had a 96 ORtg and 109 DRtg.

Like we said, we’ve written about this supposed breakthrough before. What could be the difference this time around? Perhaps Vin Baker, who joined Milwaukee’s coaching staff on Jan. 26 and has been working with Maker.

It will be interesting to see if Maker can keep this up after the All-Star break and into the playoffs.

BUCKSHOTS

— Also stepping up on Henson’s absence was newly acquired Tyler Zeller. After playing a combined 20 minutes in his first two games with the Bucks, Zeller had a combined 45 minutes in the games Henson missed, making 9 of 12 shots. He had eight rebounds in each games — and half of those 16 boards were offensive — and scored 14 points in the win over Atlanta, his second-highest total of the season topped only by 21 he had for Brooklyn all the way back on Nov. 7.

— Unsurprisingly, Jabari Parker sat out the second of back-to-back games last week. In Milwaukee’s other two contests, Parker’s minutes were again limited to 18:33 and 17:47. After scoring in double digits in his first three games, Parker had a combined 11 points in his two games.

— Entering Thursday’s game, Antetokounmpo has two blocks in four consecutive games and five of the last six. He also has a double-double in six of his last eight contests.

— In case you missed it, the Wisconsin Herd acquired Brandon Jennings off waivers. Jennings recently played in China. The Herd haven’t played since Feb. 10 and are off until Feb. 21.