In the 2021 draft, the Brooklyn Nets selected four players as well as gaining draft rights to the Suns’ 29th overall pick for Landry Shamet. The Nets selected guard Cameron Thomas with the 27th pick and center Day’ron Sharpe in the first round. This was followed by forward Kessler Edwards at 44, guard Marcus Zegarowski, and forward RaQuan Gray at 59, all in the second round. Let’s see what every rookie drafted has to offer Brooklyn this season. I will make a series of prospect profiles for every Nets rookie that was drafted. This article will focus on the explosive scoring freshman guard out of LSU, Cameron Thomas.
Coming out of LSU as a freshman, guard Cameron Thomas is 19 years old, 6 ‘4’’, and 210 lbs. He measured a 6’6” wingspan at the 2019 Nike Skills Academy. Thomas did not attend the 2021 NBA Combine. In his freshman year at LSU, Thomas averaged 23.0 points, 3.4 total rebounds, and 1.4 assists. He shot 40.6% in field goal percentage, 88.2% on free throws, and 32.5% behind the arc.
Seen as a highly touted prospect, Cameron Thomas came out of Virginia. Thomas is currently the all-time leading scorer at his high school, Oak Hills Academy. Keldon Johnson, Brandon Jennings, Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony, and Jerry Stackhouse also attended Oak Hills Academy. It is a big deal.
Thomas scored 25 or more points 16 times his freshman season, which was the most 25-point games for an SEC freshman in 25 years. He led the nation in free throws (194), led the SEC in free throw percentage, and was the leading scorer for NCAA D1 freshmen. Thomas finished first in field goals made in the SEC, and seventh in the nation (203). Thomas tied Zion Williamson and Kevin Durant for most points in an NCAA Tournament as a freshman. He averaged 28.5 points in both of LSU’s NCAA Tournament games this season. Thomas earned All-SEC First Team honors, All-SEC Freshman team honors, and was an AP Honorable Mention All-American.
Cameron Thomas has been seen as a “microwave scorer” meaning he can get hot instantly. Thomas is a 3-level scorer who can torch defenses, is great at spotting up and working off screens, and can easily shoot from any NBA range. When off-ball, Thomas is always constantly moving and often utilizes screens to get shots off. With the ball, Thomas is incredibly crafty. He’s able to get downhill fast and uses effective crossovers and step-backs moving in either direction to create space for his shots. Thomas is not afraid to take contested shots, and he can easily back up his reason for why. On open court looks, Thomas is going to either go for a spot up 3 or a slashing play to the rim.
Thomas is seen as a one-dimensional player. When he has the ball in his hands, he’s really only looking to score. He’s spotty as a 3-point shooter, and will often fall into slumps during games. This isn’t an issue to me considering that he’s only a freshman in college and he should be able to learn more consistency from offseason practice and teammates around him. Thomas is not devoted to his defense. He really doesn’t try to guard opposing players on shots. Thomas will most likely not be considered a combo guard due to his lack of defense. Thomas does not fight back to get into plays. He also lacks the ability to be clutch as he was usually the 2nd or 3rd player to be asked to take late shots in games.
Cameron Thomas isn’t a complete player. He doesn’t have to be one to be successful. The Nets need a guy off the bench who can create instant offense. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden can’t stay on the court the whole game for every game. Spencer Dinwiddie is not returning to Brooklyn. Thomas’s purpose is to come off the bench and catch and shoot. It hurts that the Nets are one of the worst defensive teams on paper and Thomas does not change that fact. I believe his shot selection and spotty scoring will improve over time. Thomas has the ability to be a future Sixth Man of the Year, and a Seth Curry/J.J. Redick type player for the Brooklyn Nets.