This summer league, Cameron Thomas has shown out, averaging 27 points a game, leading the Summer League in scoring.
Thomas has come out and has proven that he was one of the best players in this draft and making the Brooklyn Nets look very smart for taking him with the 27th pick.
With just one more game left in the Summer League, he probably won’t stop now.
? Cam Thomas. Buzzer. ? pic.twitter.com/TVkOJlFGY2
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) August 12, 2021
Thomas was already one of the best offensive talents in this draft, with an already polished offensive arsenal.
Thomas can hit deep threes like he did to win the game against the Wizards, take contested midrange jumpers, and find his way to get to the paint like he did all game when he dropped 36 points on the Spurs.
— Brooklyn Nets (@BrooklynNets) August 16, 2021
The fact remains that he has yet to play against an actual NBA defense, but in all honesty, his offensive game is good enough to succeed in the NBA. At the next level, the biggest question will be how many minutes he gets and his role.
Thomas is averaging 28.8 minutes per game in the Summer League, which makes sense, as the Nets coaching staff wants to see everything, they can get out of him. However, the Nets already have one of the best rosters in the league, and with the addition of Patty Mills, to James Harden and Kyrie Irving, this Nets backcourt is stacked.
Thomas will likely fill in the minutes left by Landry Shamet, or more likely Mike James. Shamet averaged 23 minutes a game while James was at around 18.2. On the positive side, the Nets do value resting players throughout the season, and that ideology will most likely continue, with health being a big reason their playoff run was cut short. With Harden and Irving taking a rest day every so often, that will force Mills into the starting lineup, putting Thomas as the first man off the bench, and that will be his time to showcase himself.
Again, playing with the actual NBA roster will be different from the Sumer League and might be underwhelming at the start. There will be very few opportunities on a team with many gifted offensive weapons, and with Thomas being the go-to man offensively on every team he has been on, it will take time to adjust.
The positive side of this is that Thomas will no longer be the focal point of an opposing defense, hopefully giving him the space to create that he has never seen before. The big three draw so much defensive gravity to themselves that this should open up driving lanes and wide-open shots for Thomas; he needs to take advantage of it. Growing as an off-ball threat, something he has never had to do before, will be crucial for him to build trust with the coaching staff to get more minutes.
This space helped Shamet, James, Bruce Brown, and Jeff Green succeed in the Nets offense. There were always driving lanes, wide-open threes, and midrange jumpers available to these players, and Thomas will have the same opportunities. Giving a gifted offensive weapon that much space and time will likely lead to good outcomes, even though he has never been in that role before.
Sitting behind Mills might be the best thing for him early in the season. Mills is one of the best off-ball moves in the game, constantly finding positions on the court where he can be a catch-and-shoot threat. Thomas has next to no experience in that role, and seeing Mills do it on a day-to-day basis will eventually help him, so later in the season, he can have a much more significant role.
Thomas has already proven he can successfully make contested jumpers off the catch and dribble and make contested and-one layups.
Now imagine how much better he could be if he had all the space in the world to operate.
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