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Cam Thomas’ development continues to be Nets bright spot

There are plenty of reasons to continue watching the Nets this season.

Zion Williamson proved that on Tuesday night at Barclays Center with a high-flying alley-oop dunk during New Orleans’ lopsided victory over the home team.

The Nets’ show begins Thursday with a four-game series against Milwaukee, where fans will get to see Giannis Antetokounmpo (who is battling a sore hamstring) and Damian Lillard in action.

The Nets then face Jalen Brunson and the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Cam Thomas has been a bright spot in the Nets’ down season. Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

As for the Nets’ own team, the remaining 3 ¹/₂ weeks are shaping up to be a disaster before the Nets’ season ends without mercy.

Perhaps those still paying attention can focus on the potential growth of Cam Thomas, who has improved his game this season and is one of the few players to blossom under new head coach Kevin Ollie. Probably.

In the nine games he has played (all starts) since O’Ree took over for the sacked Jacque Vaughn last month, Thomas has seen a dramatic increase in not only his minutes but also his production.

He averaged 23.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 33.3 minutes in nine consecutive games, compared to 21.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 29.7 minutes in 45 games (30 starts) under Bourne. It is recorded.

And in his last six games since returning from an ankle injury, Thomas’ efficient shooting has boosted his numbers even further, to 26.5 points per game.

The latest example was Tuesday’s game against the Pelicans, where Thomas scored a team-high 25 points and played 33 minutes, 41 seconds. He also recorded a team-worst score of -18.

It remains to be seen whether Thomas’ scoring increase is sustainable and whether it can one day help the Nets win.

O’Ree cited the fact that Thomas is not a one-dimensional player as the reason for this.

Cam Thomas continues to improve with the Nets.
Cam Thomas continues to improve with the Nets. Robert Szabo of the New York Post

“Offensively, he’s a tremendous talent,” Oley said. “But what I started to like was [and] What I’m impressed with is his rebounding talent as a guard and not being able to get down there and disrupt things a little bit and not avoid contact. ”

According to Thomas, this is a result of his efforts off the court.

“I’ve definitely gained muscle and gotten stronger,” Thomas said. “this [past] In the offseason, I was especially helped by the way the team was guarding. We’re probably getting the best defender on a nightly basis. They have physical attacks, the guards have physical attacks against me, and I sometimes manipulate my way into opening up or moving off screen. need to do it. It’s definitely tiring, but I’m definitely getting stronger and just growing into myself has really helped me. ”

As Thomas pointed out, he’s only 22 years old, even though he’s in his third NBA season.

“This is the first year I’ve actually played and actually understood how the NBA game works,” Thomas said. He said his playing time in his first two seasons was “sporadic.”

“They say it’s their third year.” [for me], but it really feels like my rookie season,” Thomas said. “For the first two years, he was a mainstay in the scouting report, so he probably showed up sporadically and surprised teams with his scoring outbursts.”

It was primarily alongside the late Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. And with Ben Simmons out for much of this season, there’s even more attention on Thomas.

“But this year, teams are game-planning more for me. Once the game starts, you have the best defender on your hands,” Thomas said. “Just reading the defense, reading the film and seeing how we can attack in different ways to be more efficient.”

Additional reporting by Jared Schwartz