The NBA is back, and so are the Brooklyn Nets. After a chaotic 2022-23 that saw some highs and plenty of lows, the Nets are looking to turn a new leaf. As Brooklyn looks to make another playoff appearance, one young player will be instrumental to their chances.
It has been somewhat of a rocky road for Cam Thomas in his NBA career. Taken No. 27 by the Nets (and with a friendly push by Kevin Durant) in the 2021 draft, Thomas came into a team with championship expectations. With those expectations and All-Stars ahead of him in the depth chart, minutes were hard to come by. When he did get a chance to get on the court, he showed himself to be a valuable contributor. With the Nets in a new era, Thomas is someone to keep an eye on.
Torching the Nets
Although the Nets are 0-2, both games went down to the wire and it took superstar performances to pull ahead. Brooklyn has been competitive thanks in large part to Thomas, and he is making history at the same time.
Thomas’s 33 points per game in the first two outings have been impressive. He’l has been excellent, and the way he is scoring has Nets fans excited.
After the All-Star break last season, the Nets were No. 26 in the NBA in field goal attempts per game inside the restricted area. When they got there, they could not cash in, and were No. 26 in field goal percentage. The Nets have to find ways to finish at the basket and attack off the dribble to score in the halfcourt. So far, Thomas has been the man with the plan.
When a big gets the Thomas assignment on a switch, Thomas has been able to draw them out and make his way to the rim.
With Ben Simmons back at full strength, the Nets have an elite handoff hub that can:
Get players the ball at angles where they can create
Attack the basket in his own right
That duo finding the rhythm and leveraging each other’s strengths can open things up for Brooklyn.
I recently participated in a roundtable and made mention of Thomas and my excitement level for him in 2023-24:
“I think this season is essential to figuring out what the franchise has in him, and it’s imperative they give him as much opportunity as possible for him to learn on the job.”
With that comes an understanding of when to press the issue against a big that a player has a speed advantage over.
And when a team has great spacing, opponents cannot help too much off of drives or risk giving up an open three-pointer. With that, you players have the chance to press the issue against a weaker defender and make something happen.
As Thomas and the Nets continue to build great chemistry, opportunities like these will continue to present themselves.
For Brooklyn, this season is about learning and experimenting. With that comes figuring out the roster, roles going forward and lineup combinations. Jacque Vaughn has mentioned he does not aim to play individual players more than 30 minutes per night. The logic is sound, but might wind up doing the team a disservice if it unintentionally limits players like Mikal Bridges, Nic Claxton, Simmons and now Thomas.
“With his talent level and skill, there was never an excuse to have him buried on the bench. Now, with proven production, there is no excuse for him not to be a consistent fixture in the rotation; he’s earned it. It’s time for one of the better players on the team to be treated as such.”
As the Nets continue figuring out what their future holds, Thomas should be a big part of it. So far, he has stepped up to the plate and delivered.