With Johnathan Motley and Ish Wainright gone, Terry Maston may be the most important player for a Baylor team looking to make a fifth Sweet 16 this decade.
Maston has shown flashes for why he could be the Bear’s best player this season. He’s also shown moments where his defense makes him nearly unplayable. Any questions that remain about his play and ability will be answered during his final season.
We’ll take a look at what Maston does well, what he needs to improve and conclude with a projection for his play this season.
Maston is one of the best jump shooting big men in the country. He made 81% of his free throws and finished second on the team at 49% on 2-point jump shots. Late close outs don’t seem to have much impact on him:
Maston’s 2-point shooting is valuable for two big reasons. First, he is often open from 18 feet because modern defenses normally concede long 2-point shots. That’s usually the right move because players can’t shoot at a high enough rate to make a long two point shot efficient. But Maston is a little different. He went a combined 16-of-25 against New Mexico State and USC. His 38 points proved crucial in the Bears making the Sweet 16.
Second, Maston is a perfect pick-and-roll foil. Most Big 12 defenses like to hard hedge or trap pick-and-rolls. The Bears also use Manu Lecomte, a smaller point guard. Defenses like to challenge him and force him to pass over them. But Maston slips outside quickly and is often wide open. That happened in the clip above against Kansas. And when defenses switch their coverage, they’re still in big trouble if they leave Maston open:
He also mixes in rolling to the rim for easy buckets:
The Bears’ big man also can create his own shot. As Motley and Lecomte battled foul trouble in Lubbock last season, Maston scored 22 points on 7-of-8 shooting. When Tech knew he was getting the ball, he still made tough 2-point shots:
Maston works in a good hook shot and low post game too. Two seasons ago against Vladimir Brodziansky—a Preseason All-Big 12 selection—he showed why a 6-foot-7 man can still dominate a 6-foot-10 guy:
When he’s really on, Maston becomes virtually unstoppable. As the Bears made their 22 point comeback against Louisville last season, Maston was a crucial piece:
The Bears often use sets where a big man needs to make passes. In their horns set, the Bears have two big men work near the elbows. With Maston’s shooting ability, opponents have to respect his spot. That draws the attention of defenders, and Maston is ready to find open Bears:
Baylor will also need to open up the playbook to replace Ish Wainright’s wing creation. Maston’s shown he’s skilled at big-to-big passing:
Finally, Maston is a skilled rebounder. The Bears have built top 20 offenses by dominating the offensive glass—they’ve been top four nationally in that category the last four seasons. Maston grabbed 12.9% of available offensive rebounds while he was on the court. If he can make a slight improvement in more minutes—something Scott Drew’s big men have done for years—then he should finish top 50 nationally in that category.
The 2017 Bears had the best defense of the Scott Drew era, finishing 16th in that category on KenPom. With Motley and Wainright gone, the Bears are losing two fantastic defenders. One easy way to not have a catastrophic drop on defense is for Maston to become serviceable on that end of the floor.
Acording to Synergy, Maston ranked in the 10th percentile as a defender last season. That’s just unbelievably awful for a player of his size and athleticism. He was constantly killed off the dribble:
The Bears can survive Maston losing some off the dribble. They can’t handle him not showing enough effort. He’s often slow running around screens. The Big 12 features a ton of teams that play four 3-point shooters at once. As a result, Maston is going to have to fight through screens. He failed at that too often:
The Bears would make a huge leap if Maston could become a competent defender. His offensive repertoire makes him a valuable player, even as a bad defender. If he can just get to mediocre it would be a huge win. And it’s very achievable.
Maston has skills when he hones in on defense. Against Louisville, he shadowed Donovan Mitchell well. A man that can do that can find a way to run up the court with Dean Wade in transition:
Maston also could be extremely valuable if he can extend his range to 3-point land. He went 0-of-5 from deep last season. But there’s reason to believe he could extend his range. All he needs to do is make a shot that’s two feet deeper than what he drains now.
In the NBA, Chris Bosh was one of the best 18 foot jump shooters in the league. He found a way to expand his range. Bosh unleashed his 3-point shot in game seven of the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, and with his improved range the Heat went onto win the title that season and the next.
Teams are leaving Maston open from three. He’s stepping up and making two point shots now. But if he can step back and make threes, he’d add a few points to Baylor’s offense every game. It’d be wonderful if he could take threes instead of dribbling up for a two point shot:
The 2017-2018 Bears need a big season from Maston. With Motley no longer around and Maston now a senior, this should be his time to make a drastic leap.
Maston has an old fashioned game that works. He’s a fantastic jump shooter and has a lethal post game. He’s a good passer too. That’s a combination that should make him a superb player for the Bears.
But Maston will need to show consistent effort and become an average defender. That’s not asking too much for a man with his athleticism and feel for the game. If Maston can extend his range by two feet as well, then the Bears will be ready to take off once again this season.
Baylor can still win if Maston keeps being a force on offense and a disaster on defense. But the Bears have built one of the country’s most consistent programs by getting the most out of their players. It’s Maston’s time to do that.