The Bucks and Pistons are swapping underachieving former lottery picks, with Thon Maker headed to Detroit and Stanley Johnson going to Milwaukee.
The Milwaukee Bucks have had little use for Thon Maker this season, as the 10th overall pick in 2016 has played just 35 games so far while averaging less than 12 minutes per contest. Maker made his desire to be traded clear to management in January, and according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski Maker is now set to be on his way to the Detroit Pistons for forward Stanley Johnson.
It’s not saying much, but Maker should find a lot more playing time in Detroit as the primary backup to center Andre Drummond. His per-36 minute numbers, for his career and this season (14.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.6 blocks), point to Maker’s inherent (and to this point untapped) upside. Even as they try to make a push toward a playoff spot, the Pistons should give themselves a solid a look at Maker before he can sign a rookie contract extension this offseason.
Johnson, the eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft, has started seven of the 48 games he’s played for the Pistons this season, averaging 7.5 points, 3.6 rebounds, 1.3 assists and one steal per game over 20 minutes per contest. He has consistently brought positive value defensively, but he’s hitting below 30 percent from beyond the arc for his career (29.2 percent) and sits below 29 percent for the second straight season right now (28.2 percent). In today’s NBA, that lack of shooting prowess is a great detriment to Johnson’s value. With the Bucks, Johnson is in line to compete for minutes off the bench with Tony Snell and Pat Connaughton.
Sometimes a change of scenery is all a player needs. Maker was not happy with his situation in Milwaukee, as they’ve risen to the best record in the NBA right now, and he’s got an opportunity in front of him. Johnson will get a fresh start with a contending team, and time will tell if that helps him.