LAS VEGAS – With Nets guard Cam Thomas entering Sunday as the highest-scoring rookie in Summer League, it begs a simple question.
How did he fall to the 27th-overall pick?
“People always want to doubt me and doubt my ability to score the ball,” said Thomas, who is only getting more comfortable by the day. “My progress has been great. I’ve been getting better game-to-game, getting a better feel for the game, feel for the pace…I think I’m doing real well.”
Late first-round picks like Thomas are not expected to dominate Summer League like top picks Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green.
But Thomas has been better than advertised.
Although scouts told the Post that Thomas’ playmaking and defense will need work to become more than just a microwave scorer off the bench, he clearly has an advanced offensive game. Thomas, who is just 19 years old, came into Sunday leading all rookies by averaging 24 points and 9.3 free throw attempts per game.
“What gets lost is that a 22-year-old rookie is different than 19 – and a 19-year-old that’s a little undersized is different than a guy that’s physically ready,” Nets’ Summer League coach Jordan Ott told the Post. “His businesslike approach is helping. He’s able to make strides. He is confident; and he should be confident when you put the work in that he has. He should be confident.
“It’s interesting, comparing his first half and second half of all the games. It’s like he figures out the defense, figures out what he’s supposed to do and how he’s supposed to attack. Super-interesting to see him progress first half to second half, and then carry us down the stretch in all the games.”
That confidence is what makes Thomas the scorer he is, unafraid of the responsibility of taking big shots.
It’s what got him to Brooklyn.
It may also be how Brooklyn got him at No. 27, when some projected him to go in the top-20, or even late in the lottery.
Multiple league personnel told the Post there was a narrative circulating around Thomas that his confidence may have come off as cockiness.
“I’m not sure about the process before he stepped foot in Brooklyn. Again, our scouts did a hell of a job evaluating. We were fortunate that he came to us,” Ott said. “The only thing I can see is what we see every single day: That his businesslike approach is helping his progress.”
Former Nets assistant GM Bobby Marks – who is with ESPN but also preps prospects for pre-draft interviews – confirmed the rumblings surrounding Thomas.
Marks called Thomas “an interesting player, an interesting person,” and said the guard’s self-assurance may have been misconstrued as hubris.
“What I think was a little bit of a turnoff for certain teams is that there’s a certain sense of confidence, maybe overconfidence, maybe a certain sense of arrogance,” Marks said on Instagram of Thomas, who was raised by a single, military mom. “I just think he has a major chip on his shoulder, because he sees all these players that were ahead of him in the mock drafts heading into the Draft. He was projected to go in the 20’s and he went at 27. I just think he’s got a major edge to him in a good way. And every team needs scoring off the bench like we see in Utah with Jordan Clarkson. For a rookie, he’s got — excuse me — a lot of s–t to him, in a good way… He could give Brooklyn some minutes off the bench.”
Marks added, “I really like the kid. He knows who he is. Yeah, he needs to get better defensively but he is one confident young man. As I said the night of the Draft, when we get to February and we’re announcing these rising sophomores, rising freshmen to play at the All-Star Weekend, don’t be surprised if Cam Thomas’s name is mentioned among the players. He’s a good one, particularly where Brooklyn picked at 27.”
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