“I told Kevin before coming out of the timeout, ‘I’m trying to get on the plane, man, so end the game.’ He gave it to me, so I said, I’ll do it.”
That’s Cam Thomas summarizing his game-winner versus the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday. “Kevin” clearly describes 11-time All-Star, four-time scoring champ and two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant. When Thomas stated, “I’ll do it,” he shrugged his shoulders and practically rolled his eyes, as if to recommend “it” was something as ordinary as buying a coffee at Starbucks.
What “it” actually was: Tied at 119-119, with less than 10 seconds staying, Durant dealt with the ball up leading, drove left, drew a double group and right away kicked it to Thomas on the weakside. The novice blew by center Jakob Poeltl, got to the paint and raised for his signature floater. Game. Time to get on the aircraft.
Thomas is, and constantly has actually been, a scorer. An definitely dominant, uber positive scorer.
“When I was about 7, in my first AAU tournament against players from across the country, [it made] me want to pursue a career in basketball,” he informed SLAM this previous summertime. “It was a tournament at Boo Williams [Sportsplex]. I’m from Virginia and back then that was the big thing—go to Boo Williams and play in tournaments there. I had 25 points playing up with the 9-year-olds when I was 7. That’s when it really made me be like, Well, I might as well just take basketball serious. I had, like, 25 points at every game that weekend.”
Fast forward a years and Thomas had actually turned into one of the leading high school potential customers in the country. He was called Nike EYBL Offensive Player of the Year in 2019, balancing 29.5 points through 13 video games on the circuit. As a senior at Oak Hill Academy, he balanced 31.5 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.4 helps. He completed his 2 years with the program as their all-time leading scorer.
In his sole season at LSU, Thomas was simply as unstoppable. He led the SEC and all Division I freshmen in scoring (23 ppg), signed up the most 20-point video games of any LSU gamer considering that Shaquille O’Neal in 1992 and was called to the All-Conference First Team.
Somehow, after all that, he was up to the Nets at No. 27 in the 2021 Draft.
Thomas isn’t the greatest (6-3), fastest or most athletic; however at every level, he has actually handled to make scoring appearance simple. He led the whole Las Vegas Summer League in ppg (27.0), striking numerous game-winners throughout the competition. Only pure scorers tear down ridiculous one-legged 3s like this:
“Obviously Cam was a much better scorer than I was coming out of college,” James Harden informed the New York Post in October. “It’s just rare you get those guys who can just get a bucket in any form or fashion. But he’s young, he learns, he listens and he works his butt off. As a young guy, that’s all you can ask for.”
The essential expression there: in any kind or style. Thomas feels in one’s bones how to put the ball in the basket. He gets downhill, attacks the rim and utilizes a soft touch on little floaters and bank shots. He browses around screens for pull-up midrange jumpers. He spreads out the flooring and can strike off-the-dribble and catch-and-shoot 3s.
The most remarkable feature of his video game, however, is his undeviating self-confidence. Thomas is entirely courageous, even playing along with super stars like Durant, Harden and Kyrie Irving. The huge minutes don’t appear to rattle him at all. Obviously his function on the Nets is far various than at Oak Hill and LSU (and in the G League, where he dropped 46 a couple of months ago), however the 20-year-old has actually kept his aggressiveness. In the month of January, he has actually balanced 12.8 points on 48 percent shooting off the bench.
To offer you a sense for simply how positive Thomas is—obviously he likes to talk garbage to KD. “I say that I think I’m a better scorer at my age than he was,” Thomas informed press reporters. “He doesn’t believe that. And then he never wants to play me one-on-one. We played one-on-one in shootaround one time—post-ups—and I beat him. Don’t tell him that. I beat him.”
Durant, obviously, bore in mind that video game in a different way. “Cam’s lying. He’s lying, for sure. I definitely beat him,” he stated. “We were at shootaround and I beat him—15-5, matter of fact. It’s an ongoing game so the score doesn’t start over. At the end of the season, we’re going to tally up the points. But he’s down a lot.”
Trash talk aside, Durant clearly sees the capacity in Thomas. When that double group came versus San Antonio, he didn’t be reluctant to kick it to the novice. And Thomas, really calmly, did what he has actually constantly done.