When the Detroit Pistons took a shot on Thon Maker as a bench big, the expectations were low. Maker was drafted as a raw, athletic freak that a team could mold like clay. As it turns out, the clay is already basically rock.
Maker is unlikely to be in a Pistons uniform next season and, barring a complete 180-degree flip, that was probably going to happen anyway. The decision was made easier with the season that the 23-year-old put together. In 60 games he averaged 4.7 points and 2.8 rebounds with just under a block per contest. Truth be told, there is just not much that Maker provided that the Pistons could (or would or want to) work with.
In an attempt to expand his capabilities as an offensive player, the Pistons pushed Maker to shoot more three-pointers. In 2018-2019, he attempted a career-high 2.6 threes per game. In the 60 games in 2019-2020, he only attempted 1.1 despite making them at a slightly higher clip (34.4% in 19-20 versus 33.3% in 18-19). Without the threat of outside shooting or, based on that shot chart, competent shooting from one entire side of the floor, Maker was a non-factor.
Against backups, defensively, Maker was competent enough. He held a defensive box plus/minus of 0.7, which is starkly better than his -2.0 offensive box plus/minus. He also provided some rebounding prowess as well, though some of this could be compounded by the trade of Andre Drummond. Christian Wood, who at times sat on the bench behind the inferior Maker for some reason, also superseded the lanky seven-footer.
If you can believe it, Thon Maker did have some highlights this season. A 19-point outing against the Oklahoma City Thunder:
Detroit really took a low-risk high-reward sort of trade on Maker, one that turns out to be a steal if it works or fades off into the void if it fails. As it turns out, this one will fall into the void. With the Pistons frontcourt thinned out from the Drummond trade, it is possible the Pistons will bring Maker back on a light deal. With Wood as the starter, assuming Detroit re-signs him, Maker would make a serviceable backup especially since he already knows the system. But that is a low-percentage chance, especially with the team likely continuing to clean house and try out some other unknown commodities. The Thon Maker experience was short-lived (thankfully, for some) and has likely come to an end.