There aren’t many true freshmen that have a natural scoring ability like Cameron Thomas. Playing for LSU last season, Thomas scored an insane 23 points per game. Now, this one number does not tell the whole story. For the number of points that Thomas had, he was rather inefficient and struggled with motivation and defense at times. This super-scorer does have some nice potential in the NBA and has shown some tremendous flashes of a star. Let’s get into his game.
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Name: Cameron Thomas
Position: Shooting Guard
Weight: 210 lbs
Prototype: Offensive Threat
This is a great start for Thomas. He is very good when going to the rim and has a unique finishing ability. There are many times where he can control himself through the air to make a tough finish and he rarely misses open layups. Something that we’ll talk a lot about in this report is his shot selection. In general, it’s morbid, around the rim it’s really not too bad. If he can keep up his nice driving ability, he’ll be a strong finisher in the NBA.
Perimeter Shooting (6/10)
This is a really strange aspect of Thomas’s game. We’ve seen flashes of a good shooter out of him and he’s made some super tough shots in-game. However, the stats don’t lie here. He averaged 2.3 made threes per game. Not a bad number at all until we see that he attempted 7.2 a game. This balanced out for a 32.5 percent clip. This is nowhere near acceptable for an upcoming NBA guard whose main prowess in the league will be his pure scoring ability.
Now, it’s not all too bad. There is some nice potential here and you can see it in various areas of his game. For one, he’s an 88 percent free-throw shooter. This demonstrates that he has nice form and this can lead to him making more shots than he has. At the end of the day, Thomas is a high-potential shooter but needs some serious work right now.
Thomas really keeps the ball on a string wherever he is on the floor. He’s excellent at weaving through traffic and can really make it work for a bigger guard. He knows how to explode with the ball in his hands and get to the rack effectively. He can stop his dribble nicely and get into a pull-up and he is relatively effective as the handler in the pick and roll. His handling isn’t to the point where he’s going to convert to point guard or anything like that, but it’s still very solid and should do him nicely at the next level.
A rating of 3.5 could actually be pretty generous but Thomas’s passing is subpar, to say the least. He averaged 1.4 assists per game last season which is pretty unimpressive. He’s never shown a true ability to be a facilitator and almost always takes the shot right in front of him without looking for the open man. This cannot continue. Even the best scorers in the NBA are some of the best playmakers and they certainly don’t surface near 1.4 assists per game. Thomas needs to quit playing hero ball and start playing for his team before he can get any meaningful NBA minutes.
On-Ball Defending (5.75/10)
Thomas got some heat for his defensive play this season, especially in March Madness. His defense is not good, but it’s not as bad as some made it out to be. He got about a steal a game which is pretty impressive for a guy who lacks the aggression on defense. He got picked on a lot and still needs to learn a lot of the basics in terms of his footwork and discipline. This is not an area Thomas will be good at in the NBA but, should he improve, it won’t be too much of a weakness because of his nice athleticism and size.
Shot Creating (9.5/10)
This is where Thomas excels. Yes, he does hoist up too many shots. However, his shot creation is outstanding. His pull-up off the dribble is killer and he can get to the basket really nicely. He’s super unpredictable for defenders and can hit difficult shots, taking off from anywhere. On top of this, he generates a ton of free throws and hits them. His ability to get to the rim, pull-up, post-up, and draw fouls is an excellent combination for a pure scorer in the NBA and he can only improve on this ability from here.
Off-Ball Movement (8.5/10)
This is another factor that adds to Thomas’s innate shot-creating ability. He is moving all the time without the ball and has found himself open often. He does need to work on hitting the open jumpers but he understands where he should be often. This trait was actually a bit of a surprise as well. The first look at Thomas makes him seem like he’s strictly an iso-ball player. His want for the ball, however, shows up really nicely in his movement on the floor and is a really nice added bonus to his play.
Thomas is a very solid athlete. He doesn’t blow anyone away with amazing dunks or great blocks but he more than gets the job done. He utilizes very nice quickness in several aspects of his game. He’s able to explode off his back heel past defenders for the easy layup in half-court sets. He also runs the break really nicely. LSU was one of the fastest teams in the nation, mostly due to Thomas’s ability on the break. His quickness is where he shines here and should not hold back at the next level.
As expected, Thomas is not much of a rebounder but he does a little better than most guards in this area. He averaged 3.4 rebounds per game last season and has shown a solid willingness to get the ball at times. Overall, not much to really speak on here but his stats in this area should help him nicely in the NBA, especially if he can improve his motor a little.
Basketball IQ (2.5/5)
This trait just comes down to one of our main topic points, shot selection. There are so many times on tape where you literally just ask yourself “what is he doing?” The shots he takes rarely help his team and he’s got to look to the open man instead of just taking a contested jumper. I wouldn’t be complaining so much if he could hit the shots but he hasn’t shown the ability to thus far.
Competitive Toughness (4/5)
Thomas has good effort all around. He could show a little more willingness on defense but he plays with a nice intensity on the court. His teammates really rally around his big performances, and he contributed nicely in big games.
Injury History (4.5/5)
Thomas suffered an ankle injury this year that held him out a little bit. Other than that, his injury history has been clean.
With any inefficient, high-volume scorer, it’s bound to be a wild ride when reviewing their play. The flashes that Thomas has shown in some games illustrate that he has one of the highest ceilings in this draft. However, he has a ton to work on and it all starts with shot selection and perimeter shooting. He should pick up on shot selection right away because NBA coaches will not stand for some of the shots he takes. The perimeter shooting he can gain over time and he’s already shown a nice ability for it. Thomas should be selected in the first round to a team that needs a developing guard. If he gets a year, or two, in the G-League, he can develop and fulfill his potential.
Player Grade (73.75/100): Late-First Round
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