Aussies in NBA: Thon Maker reflects on season, focused on getting better

Young players trying to break into the NBA face a gigantic learning curve, none more so than Australian forward Thon Maker. Thanks to a rather unique situation, he became the first player since 2005 to jump straight from high school to the pros.

It was a daring maneuver, to forgo college basketball and declare for the NBA draft. However, with Maker's rookie season nearing its crescendo, it appears to have been a smart decision as the Aussie finds himself playing meaningful minutes for the playoff-bound Milwaukee Bucks.

Maker first spoke to The Pick and Roll via Darrel Wilson, two years ago in an exclusive feature at the Ball Is Life High School All-American game.

Darrel caught up with Maker again, following a 97-96 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. He was named to the start in that game. Despite having played only seven minutes, Maker scored on a three-pointer in the second half that swung momentum in the Bucks' favour.

"I feel like the results, so far, are where I wanted them to be," Maker explained, when asked about how he felt his rookie season was going.

"To jump from where I was to get to the league, I did whatever it took to get here and I’m going to do whatever it takes to stay here. That is always my mentality."

After playing sparingly through the first two months of the season, Maker has averaged 3.1 points and 1.6 rebounds in just under 10 minutes of action since the All-Star break. He has helped fill the hole left by the injured Jabari Parker, while also spending time at centre, something that he has had to adjust too.

"Right now, I’m playing more of the five so I’m dedicating time to my footwork, the quickness to fight around other teams’ centers because they are much bigger, so for me, that’s important." Maker said.

When asked what other areas he is looking to improve in this off-season, the Aussie identified his body as a main focus point.

"I need to continue working on my body. I want to come back stronger for next season," Maker confirmed.

"On the defensive side of the floor, I need to work on being more vocal and finding ways to help us win."

Winning is something the Bucks have been doing as of late. Since the All-Star break, Milwaukee have gone 12-6 after going 25-30 through their first 55 games of the season. They have rocketed up the Eastern Conference standings to currently lay claim to the sixth seed.

"As a team, we want to continue playing the way we are playing right now and I don’t expect nothing less than this," Maker said.

"So for us, we’re on a good pace for the playoffs and just have to focus on one game at a time."

Maker has had a solid rookie campaign, one that, if the Bucks keep winning, may extend beyond just the regular season.

Interview courtesy Darrel Wilson, follow him on Twitter at @SpitsGame.