Laughing and juggling a basketball with his feet, soccer-style, at the end of practice on Wednesday, it was easy to see that Thon Maker was feeling upbeat but hard to tell if his injured wrist was feeling better.
A few minutes later, though, Maker was on the floor and participating in drills at the Bucks’ training facility, throwing and receiving post passes, as Jason Kidd watched closely behind him. Offering one-on-one instruction – and occasionally a joke, especially when Maker chucked a pass over the head of assistant coach Sean Sweeney – Kidd seemed optimistic about the rookie big man’s chances of making his preseason debut against the Mavericks on Saturday.
“We hope so,” Kidd said when asked afterward if Maker would play in Madison, where Milwaukee’s first preseason home game will take place at the Kohl Center. The 7-foot-1 Maker, who was sidelined with a sprained right wrist suffered last week during training camp, suited up but did not play Monday in the Bucks’ preseason opener against the Bulls in Chicago. On Tuesday, Maker had said his wrist felt good and the last remaining test would be in full-contact practice.
That portion of practice was not open to media, but Kidd said there had been no setbacks on Wednesday and Maker, who was still wearing his small black brace, would be monitored and evaluated over the next few days.
“We’ll see how he gets through this week,” the head coach said. “We’ve got tomorrow off and then we’ll go Friday, and hopefully he gets through practice Friday and we’ll see how he does on Saturday.”
And, assuming Maker plays, what does Kidd expect from the raw and physically gifted 19-year-old whose life (and resulting basketball journey) has taken him from Africa to Australia to North America?
“My expectation is he’s going to be a rookie,” Kidd said with a smile.
So pencil Maker in for 30 and 15.