The Cleveland Cavaliers will have the first pick and the 19th pick in this upcoming draft. In the next few weeks here at Right Down Euclid, we will be profiling players the Cavaliers might draft in the first round on June 27th. Today, we profile DeShaun Thomas.
Tale of the Tape
Name: DeShaun Thomas
School: Ohio State
Weight: 220 lbs.
Honors: 2013 All-Big Ten 1st Team
2012-2013 Per Game Stats: 19.8 PPG, 5.9 RPG, 1.3 APG, 0.5 SPG, 0.3 BPG, 44.4 FG%, 34.4 3PT% 83.4 FT%
2013 NCAA Tournament Stats: 21.8 PPG, 3.5 RPG, 50.9 FG%, 42.1 3PT%, 82.6 FT% over 4 Games
At the bottom of the first round of the NBA Draft there are always some wild cards, guys who could go 20th and be expected to be a real factor for a playoff contender or go in the middle of the second round and be an afterthought. Draft analysts are torn on where to place them in their mock drafts and are usually wrong. DeShaun Thomas is one of those players this year for me. Thomas could go anywhere from about 25th to the middle of the second round, and I wouldn’t flinch at all. He’s rated 29th in NBADraft.net’s mock draft. Draft Express is not so kind, ranking him 45th. Jeff Goodman of CBS Sports has him 26th. Thomas is intriguing simply because of his offensive capabilities, a pure scorer who can certainly put the ball in the basket. Since the Cavs own the 31st and 33rd picks at the beginning of the 2nd round, I felt it would be relevant to discuss the possibility of the Cavs drafting Thomas and what he brings to the NBA.
Thomas has some impressive size for a small forward, standing at 6’7” and 220 pounds. He’s very strong as well, adding to his fairly impressive post game for a wing player. However, this is about where Thomas’s physical strengths end. Thomas is not very quick at all, which will definitely be a problem at the next level. At the draft combine, Thomas scored lower on his speed and agility drills than Mike Muscala and Jeff Withey, which wouldn’t be as large of a problem if those weren’t both centers. He’s also not very athletic and will struggle to deal with much more athletic opponents on both ends in the NBA. While Thomas did easily overcome both of these things in college to be a productive NBA player, his physical deficits will cause a much bigger problem for him at the next level.
Thomas is a scorer. There’s really no other effective word for it. He will score points, no matter who is guarding him or what shot he is taking. He can score in the post. He can hit threes. He can score off the dribble in one-on-one situations. Above all else, Thomas will score you points when he plays. Thomas has an outstanding shooting motion, a very fluid jumper, and will be able to connect on a variety of shots at the next level. He’s also adept at taking his man off the dribble, even if he’s going to struggle a little bit with long or athletic defenders at the next level. Thomas is perhaps most effective in a catch-and-shoot situation, as he can hide his speed deficit because of his abilities coming off screens or moving off the ball. In the paint, Thomas is an effective finisher and has some decent post moves for a wing player. He doesn’t possess the best shot selection, but he has shown an ability to be more efficient in a complimentary role, which is where he will be at the next level. Even with his physical deficits, Thomas will score in the NBA, and I am very confident about this.
As good as Thomas is at hiding his deficits offensively, defensively they become very, very apparent. Thomas can’t play defense at all. He lacks the quickness to keep up with wing players and definitely can’t handle defense in the post due to his height. He doesn’t have the length of an Anthony Bennett, which means he would have to rely solely on his strength to defend inside, which isn’t going to work all the time. He became much better on this end last season compared to 11-12, especially on the perimeter, but the fact is that he needs to be paired with a devastating defensive player either as a rim protector or on the wing (like he had with Jared Sullinger and Aaron Craft at Ohio State) to be an effective defensive player. He does put in the effort, but he just doesn’t have the skills to be able to handle defense at the next level.
DeShaun Thomas is not a dumb player by any means. He’s not Michael Beasley, and he’s not Jordan Crawford. You don’t have to question Thomas’s work ethic in my opinion; he did everything he could to transition from compliment to Jared Sullinger to Ohio State’s alpha dog and did exactly that, leading the Big Ten in scoring and delivering a fantastic performance in the NCAA tournament to lead Ohio State to their third consecutive Elite Eight. However……..man, Thomas can be frustrating because of his shot selection and defensive deficits. He is a good player. We’ve seen it at OSU. However, he just can be so frustrating because he’s just like every other guy who likes to shoot a ton of mid-range shots and doesn’t play defense that’s currently in the NBA. I don’t know if that’s a negative or not. I just know that if Thomas makes it in the NBA, I am going to absolutely love him or absolutely hate him because that is how I operate when it comes to one-dimensional volume shooters.
I kind of like former Nuggets great Alex English as a comp for Thomas. Both were great scorers, both had similar bodies, neither could defend anyone and both don’t really fit into the modern NBA game. I’m fairly confident that DeShaun Thomas would have torn it up in the 80s, but that’s somewhat irrelevant. The fact that both have basically the same game somewhat gives me hope that Thomas can make it, even in a fairly limited capacity.
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
If he falls to the Cavs with one of their second round picks, I want the Cavs to take him. There’s the Ohio connection, so he’d immediately be welcomed by Cavs faithful. The Cavs could use a backup small forward who can score to compliment Alonzo Gee off the bench, and Thomas fits that profile perfectly. He would probably need to be hidden on Canton in the D-League to mature and develop, but the Cavs could eventually find a place for him.