Even though he deserves to start in Summer League, the Brooklyn Nets are making Cam Thomas come off the bench.
Most first-round picks are immediate starters in Las Vegas Summer League, but not Cam Thomas. The Brooklyn Nets are using a forward-thinking approach with the rookie’s development, making him the Summer League sixth man.
Thomas, 19, tallied 22 points and four assists off the bench in Brooklyn’s 97-91 win over the Summer League Bucks. Two nights earlier, Thomas dropped 19 points in 25 minutes, once again as a reserve.
The Nets drafted Thomas because he can score the basketball. Although his shooting numbers through two games (12-for-30, 40% FG) haven’t been great, he’s flashing his insane upside as a shotmaker.
— NBA (@NBA) August 11, 2021
The Big 3 Isn’t Going Anywhere
The Nets are going to revolve around Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden for the next half-decade. Durant is already locked up for five years and Nets general manager Sean Marks believes Irving and Harden will sign extensions by training camp.
When Durant, Irving, and Harden are on the floor, they will dominate the ball. That’s a fact of life for anyone on this Nets roster.
However, NBA teams can never have enough scoring. The Nets are in need of another bench scorer to help take pressure off of the big three.
If last year was any indication, the Nets are going to run Harden with the second unit to start second and fourth quarters. This opens up an opportunity for the rookie Thomas to be the Robin to Harden’s Batman during those second-unit minutes.
New Territory for Thomas
This is going to be brand new for Thomas. He started all 29 games during his freshman season at LSU. Not to mention, as a top high school recruit in the country, he was likely starting in most, if not all of his high school and AAU games growing up.
Giving reps to Thomas in Summer League is a smart way for Brooklyn to prioritize Thomas’ development.
Last year, the Nets leaned heavily on the veterans who surrounded the big three. This year, they are injecting some youth into the rotation.
It’s clear that the Nets are grooming Thomas for a second-unit role next season. The question now is simple: Is he up to the task?
Big East Shows Out
Wednesday’s game between the Nets and Bucks featured two big names from the Big East — Seton Hall’s Sandro Mamukelashvili and Providence’s David Duke Jr.
Mamukelashvili flashed some offensive potential. He can do a little bit of everything on that end of the court, but he needs to clean up his defense if he wants to secure a future in the NBA.
Duke, on the other hand, is playing rugged, high-energy defense for the Nets. Whether or not he can stick depends on his ability to knock down jumpers. He was adept at getting to the rim in college, but he won’t be able to survive without the three-ball in the NBA.
If nothing else, Mamukelashvili and Duke are getting a chance to prove themselves in Las Vegas.