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Pistons Tune-Up: Thon Maker needs to be able to fill minutes at center

The lanky big had an up-and-down half season with the Pistons after a mid-season trade with the Milwaukee Bucks

NBA: Playoffs-Milwaukee Bucks at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

There are quite a few things that Thon Maker needs to work on during this offseason, and we will get into those more during the official player preview. However, one big thing that the lanky Pistons big needs to work on is his strength. There are obviously things like shooting that need a lot of work, but if he wants to stick around in the NBA beyond his rookie contract he is going to need to get stronger.

Maker is probably going to be playing a lot of center this season due to the Pistons not having a natural center on their current roster outside of Andre Drummond. That is...not great, and it is mainly due to the fact that Thon Maker is not strong at all.

Maker’s lack of strength comes through in many parts of his game. He is not a great rebounder due to not being able to box out bigger players. He has the height and length to sometimes outreach somebody for a rebound, but his positioning and ability to box out leave a lot to be desired in the rebounding department. He is not great defensively outside of blocking shots because he doesn’t have that quick of feet to make up for not being strong. He gets bullied down low, so his best position is power forward, but he is not quick enough to guard a lot of fours in the era of small ball.

The best path for Maker to earn playing time is going to be learning how to be an effective center, and that starts and ends with building up his strength. Many of his weaknesses can be alleviated simply by getting stronger.

He is never going to be that strong because of his body type, but he is still young and does have some room for adding strength. The Pistons have a great training staff and Maker should have all of them on speed dial to work on strength training.

The list of things that Maker needs to improve on is quite long. The potential is still there, but the clock is running out on him still being considered a “raw” prospect with untapped potential. At some point he has to show that he can do something on the basketball court at an above-average level.

He is likely never going to be a good enough shooter, or switchy enough on defense to be a full time power forward in the current era of basketball, but becoming a center who can stretch the defense a little bit is going to be Maker’s key to staying in the league. That starts with becoming stronger.

Stayed tuned for more of an in-depth look at Maker for the upcoming season in our Player Preview series.