The City of Milwaukee was the first in America to welcome an Australian as the overall number 1 pick with open arms during the 2005 NBA draft. 11 years on and they have just welcomed a new wave of Australian talent that is more exiting and intriguing than Andrew Bogut for a number of reasons.
The Bucks are only 1 year removed from a playoff run that had the whole league talking about what was to come next, playing with an energy on defence and all round hustle well beyond their rosters ‘on paper’ capabilities they finished with a .500 record (41 wins and 41 losses) largely without their newly acquired 2nd overall pick Jabari Parker.
All these signs pointed to another great year and the development of something special however a few small ill-informed free agency moves and a big role of the dice on Greg Monroe, They went from having the 2nd best defence in the league to 22nd which meant the Bucks had lost their identity that had carried them to the playoff only 12 months earlier.
Now fast forward back to the present and the Bucks have all the ‘makings’ to not only finish with an above .500 record but also make the playoffs again.
Young Australian additions Matthew Dellavedova and 10th overall pick in the draft, Thon Maker will play a big role in this for a number of reasons but most of all this will be due to the energy, passion and work rate they bring to a team. They fit the mould of the 2014-2015 bucks perfectly and their games will be able to flourish within this system.
Matthew Dellavedova had an Olympics to remember, in one particular game he registered 23 points 13 assists with 0 turnovers on 88% shooting, a world class performance at any level. There is already a buzz about Delly and his potential before you even look at this new home deeper analysing his role and the effect of his new mentor.
Delly made a name for himself playing off of Lebron and trying to cover for him when he inevitably needed rest. This is not a position that should be understated, to maintain your team’s level of play when they’ve gone from having the best player in the league to a shaky Kevin Love is no easy task. When on court Lebron is usually the primary ball handler and Delly is utilised in link up player and spot up 3’s. Something he is quite adept at, hitting over 40% of all 3’s last year.
In Milwaukee something along these lines is currently being constructed, the Giannis Antetokounmpo at point guard experiment is a massive ‘watch this space’ because the sheer dimensions of Antetokounmpo mean he has the potential to be a Super star. However he isn’t ready to take on the point guard role full time and Delly is the perfect man to play alongside him as he did in Cleveland with Lebron James.
It’s no secret Delly is a pest on defence, he is able to switch and cover pretty much everybody who comes his way through his insane tenacity.
Meaning he will be able to not only fill in for Giannis when running the point guard position but also in defence. Last season as a back-up point guard Dellavedova registered 0.6 steals a game in only an average of 24 minutes a night, so in a more advanced role that focus on lock down defence turning to quick offence we will be able to see what this number increases to.
Delly proved at the Olympics that he operates excellently in a pick and roll if he has quality players setting screens and catching the ally-oops he throws up, Aron Baynes and Andrew Bogut helped massively in this department during the Olympics. At the Bucks Delly will have Greg Monroe who when given the ball can pound the post, get the rim and go at a defender at any given time, and he will also have Miles Plumlee. Plumlee who just signed a new 4 year $52 Million contract, offers a different alternative that I think Delly will find very useful, Miles is an oversized energiser bunny who is in your face from the tip off. He roles hard to the rim and finishes strong, he is athletic too and is more than capable of getting up and catching ally-oops above the rim. This skill-set looks to be a perfect match for a Matthew Dellavedova in need of a lob catcher.
The strong screens that Plumlee sets mean that Delly will get plenty of opportunities to both get to the basket and open up passing lanes to dish it out to a cutting Parker or Antetokounmpo. Or of course put up that trademark floater that has been so successful for him in recent years.
So clearly Delly’s all round game has lots of room to grow with the others around him in Milwaukee, with an average roster age of 23 years old the development process is just beginning and Delly is already in the thick of it. However the greatest asset to his evolution as a point guard may not come from his on court performances, but rather from the guidance and experience coming from the sidelines.
Jason Kidd is the Head Coach of the Milwaukee Bucks but before that he was an All-Time great of the game, a sure fire hall of famer when his time comes around. The definitive point guard who played the position well and played it right, for Matthew Dellavedova to be under this man’s direction is incredibly valuable.
Kidd finished up his career nestle within the top 5 all-time lists for 3 different categories, he is 5th all-time in made 3 pointers, 2nd all-time in assists and 2nd all-time in steals. The foundations of what makes a steady point guard Kidd had mastered them.
Now when you highlight Delly’s strengths what are the three things you instantly thinking of?
Passing ability, tough defence and knock down 3 point shooting.. Sound familiar?
Jason Kidd will know how to utilise a player with Delly’s skill-set perfectly because of the similarities in their game, and also having watched the way he played with Lebron is crucial to the success of the Point Giannis experiment. Essentially Kidd will be implementing a watered down, generic version of himself into a new Bucks system.
Keep in mind Dellavedova is a man who initially came into the NBA un-drafted and has worked tirelessly to get to where he is now. Those traits of dedication and effort mean that Delly will be listening and learning from Kidd as an eager apprentice, soaking up as much invaluable wisdom as possible.
Now it must be said that fitting into a new team and learning a new style of play is always a challenge and this can take some players’ time. However, Delly is coming into a team that is growing with him. It’s not as though some integral pieces were lost from the team and he is being bought in to replace them. Delly is coming into a team that is merely adding his skill set without losing anything else in his place, he is replacing Jerryd Bayless but Bayless was a 43% 3 point shooter and point provider off the bench, Delly’s slots in and fills these shoes nicely whilst also bringing along some extra elements.
In the 2013 NBA draft the Milwaukee Bucks had the rights to the 15th pick and they decided to go with an 18 year old boy from Greece who was playing in the second division Greek league at the time. This was a wild selection that was viewed as a long term project to say the least, now upon me writing this article this same player. Giannis Antetokounmpo just signed a 4 year $100 million contract to stay in Milwaukee.
He has gone from an incredibly raw, overseas mystery pick to future All-star all by the time he is 22 years of age. Excitement is buzzing in the state of Wisconsin and when you see Giannis play it’s easy to see why. After the all-star break he averaged 18.7 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 7.3 apg, 1.5 stlpg, with this fresh in the franchises mind it’s easy to see why the Bucks were so adamant about drafting Thon Maker another wildly talented athletic gem shrouded in “What if’s?.
In the hope they find another diamond among the rough they rolled the dice, It is not clear how Thon will adjust to playing against NBA opposition due to coming straight from High school. Hell, it’s not even clear how old Thon really is!
One thing that is clear though is Thon plays with a high level of passion and intensity that can’t be taught. Apart from his 7 foot 3 height and never ending wingspan this is his greatest tool to success.
The Bucks have demonstrated their ability to nurture young, raw talent into world class competitors so this bodes well for Maker.
In summer league he showed off his shooting stroke and although successful shots were a bit difficult to come by (Missing 13 of 19 attempts) when he makes them his form is promising. Nobody is expecting him to knock down 3’s at a Steph Curry like rate but Thon does show the ability to hit an open 3 if needed and that is crucial in today’s NBA. He shoots with the ball held up high above his 7 foot frame, so defending this shot is near impossible as he will inevitably shoot over the top of defenders. So it comes down to a matter of consistency, and with the foundations already there Thon’s already starting to show a massive upside.
For his height Thon weighs a mere 100kg, so although he is has exceptional instincts for rebounding and can reach and jump higher than many opposing Centres (Makers 36.5′ maximum vertical leap is the highest ever recorded in the NBA Draft Combine history) he is easily muscled off the ball.
He had two double-double outing in Summer League the most impressive being a game where he recorded 17 points, 17 rebounds and 1 block. Now this was only in Summer League but how many other rookies put up numbers similar to this during the tournament?
So on his day Thon can be electrifying and cover pretty much every inch of the court, however due to his 100kg frame there are times where things don’t go his way and he will get sloppy and frustrated. This was evident in the game where he received 10 personal fouls in 31 minutes of game time, this is all a part of the rookie process and performances like this will be ironed out. But considering the NBA’s limit of 6 personal fouls before being ejected this is something to be slightly concerned with, Maker’s intensity and desire to prove himself can get in the way sometimes but between that and a player who merely rest on their natural abilities I’d be taking the player who wears their heart on their sleeve like Thon does any day of the week. Besides, the rollercoaster ride that is a rookie season is supposed to have these ups and downs and considering the mystery that surrounded the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft the amount of upside already on display is enough to put the mind at ease.
So clearly Boomers fans, Bucks fans, fans of Aussie’s competing abroad, and anyone in between. We all have a lot to look forward to with Matthew Dellavedova’s move to Milwaukee and Thon Maker introduction into the elongated family of the Bucks. The combination of an exciting up and coming roster, a thirst for playoff experience and a Coaching system specifically set up to nurture talent means this is defiantly a team you’ll want to bookmark on NBA league pass. Australian Basketball is in for a treat these coming years. So watch out Tokyo 2020! And the NBA will also soon have to realise it is time to fear the deer!