High Ceiling, Low Results


Will Tyrus Thomas Ever Figure It Out?

High draft picks are NBA gold. Score enough of them and even the most dysfunctional of franchises can attain relevance. Smart executives covet them like Gollum on a Ring binge, parting with their own about as easy as Chuck Heston lets go of a Smith & Wesson.

Which brings us to Tyrus Thomas. Turning just twenty-six years of age next month, Thomas has already cost two franchises high draft picks (Chicago’s #2 overall in ’06, Charlotte a likely lottery pick in ’14) and may well be on his way to costing the Bobcats another if management deems the $24 million remaining on his contract too big to amnesty. The ‘Cats desperately tried to unload him during the draft, dangling their highly coveted number two overall pick as trade bait but couldn’t score a single worthy bite.*

In retrospect, they shouldn’t have been surprised. This was the same player who would run a self-imposed, one man fullcourt press on routine inbounds plays. Who would regularly sky high for an offensive rebound then immediately follow it with a twenty-foot-hand-in-his-face fadeaway. Who forced a gentle old man into an act of unmistakable violence. Quirky personality? To say the least.

Fluke or Freak?

Thomas seemed to take training queues from Christian Bale’s “Machinist” last offseason, stripping his body down to skin and bone — it was a sight rarely seen: An NBA veteran showing up to camp underweight. Thomas struggled to guard anyone stronger than Austin Daye, played most of the truncated season out of position as a small forward and generally stunk it up whenever he was on the court. The entire episode was a disaster within a disaster, culminating in Paul Silas’s reverse Spreewell choke-out April 15th.

One Last Shot

By choosing not to exercise the amnesty provision this summer, the Bobcats gave themselves an out should Tyrus prove last year no fluke. That’s the worst case scenario. A better version would have Thomas arrive at camp closer to his 240 pound playing weight, mentally focused and prepared to listen, where he’ll find a coach perfectly suited to enhance his game.

Mike Dunlap wants to create turnovers, push the tempo and lock-down anything that drives. Tyrus’s long 6’10” frame, lateral quickness and shot-blocking ability are perfect for such a system. He can guard either forward spot and hang with most of today’s centers. Put a re-focused Tyrus, Bismack Biyombo and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist on the front-line and DARE opposing wings into the paint.

The strategy for Coach Dunlap seems obvious: play Thomas 20 minutes a night, simplifying his accountabilities: Block Shots, Rebound the Ball, Deny Position Underneath. If you do that, we’ll run a few pick ‘n pop/kickout sets your way. Basically, be our version of Serge Ibaka. He does this with consistency and the team can trash the amnesty. Tyrus will be bargain and the Bobcats will be a much, much better team. If not? Tyrus becomes yet another cautionary tale in the book of High Ceilings, Low Results.


*Some perspective: Just last month former Executive of the Year Joe Dumars tossed a high first rounder Charlotte’s way as renumeration for Ben Gordon’s ’13-’14 salary. Just one season. For a player who can still contribute. Who isn’t a locker room problem. One can only imagine the price for taking back T-Time’s contract.

4 thoughts on “High Ceiling, Low Results

  1. RobC

    The Cats definetely need one more big body preferably a PF. Here is my list of the best avaliable players, who might be willing to play for the Bobcats on a short term and cheap contract.

    Restricted Free Agents:
    1.) Donte Greene – Big, long, combo foward, with shooting touch, can score and is only 24. He could be motivated in a new team anviroment and with a coach like Dunlap.
    2.) Mareese Speight – Big body, more of a PF/C, that can provide some toughness off the bench and score ocasionally.

    Unrestricted Free Agents:
    1.) Andray Blatche – Pure PF with great offense but very little defense. Big body, strong and skilled but extremelu high maintenance. This is another high risk, high reward guy. Maybe a new team, a new coach and a new enviroment will be just what he needs and he may even compete for the starting PF spot. He might have his eyes set on a better team, but he is a high risk guy.
    2.) Troy Murphy – Big PF who can score and rebound the ball. He’ll be a short term option, similar to what the Cats were expecting from A. Jamison. He will have more opportunity to be a factor in the Bobcats offense than he did with the Lakers, so he could actually be a great addition to the team and a solid scoring punch and rebounder off the bench that can stretch the floor for Kemba, Hendo and MKG.
    3.) Shelden Williams & Lou Amundson – Two big bodies that can add some toughness and energy off the bench. Solid rebounders and pretty good defenders for 20mpg, that’s about it.

    There are also some reports in ESPN that the Bobcats invited Scoop Jardine (Syarcuse PG) to training camp, to compete for the 3rd PG spot. I think either Jardine and vevn better Scott Machado (if the Rockets release him) will be good options for the Bobcats as a 3rd PG off the bench.

  2. Leroy Tung

    I definitely like the Blatche idea, i followed him since he got drafted by the Wizards 2nd round and told my friends “he’s gonna be the next KG”…well, he seems like he has the ceiling to get there offensively but he had fail to do so in terms of a professional. But if his apology to the Wizards fans are straight from his heart, i wouldn’t doubt him coming in trying to prove something to the people…at least he has a good experience of losing in Wizards already and the Bobcats should do better than that next year.

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