Slowly, but surely, the Utah Jazz roster is getting filled. With Washington Wizards free agent Trevor Booker agreeing to a two-year, $10 million pact with the team on Tuesday, the headcount sits at 11 guaranteed contracts.
Moreover, the front court is getting more and more crowded. With Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Rudy Gobert, recently acquired Steve Novak, Jeremy Evans and now Booker in tow, things are taking shape.
But don’t sleep on Malcolm Thomas.
Thomas is having a very solid showing at the Las Vegas summer league. He has started all three outings thus far, posting very solid numbers: 11.3 PPG (56 percent shooting), 7.7 RPG, 1.7 APG, 1.33 BPG and 1.0 SPG in 23.7 MPG. He has been active on both ends of the court. Thomas’ energy and a double-double helped offset Gobert’s absence versus the Denver Nuggets Tuesday evening. All in all, it could be argued that he has been Utah’s most consistent performer.
Thomas has had an interesting road. He spent time at three schools in California–Pepperdine University, San Diego Community College and San Diego State University. While he had a nice collegiate career at SDSU, he went undrafted in 2011. After brief spells in South Korea, with the Los Angeles Lakers (getting cut prior to the start of the lockout season) and the D-League, he was signed to contracts with both the San Antonio Spurs and the Houston Rockets, ultimately spending most of this rookie season in the D-League.
He spent most of the 2012-13 campaign with Maccabi Tel Aviv. He then earned 10-day contracts with the Golden State Warriors and the Chicago Bulls, finishing that season with them. Finally, after two months in a second San Antonio stint, he was waived and claimed off waivers by the Jazz [ref] Which made perfect sense, since everything San Antonio touches turns to gold.[/ref]. Thomas only appeared in seven games. He had nine points and four rebounds in the season finale [ref] Thomas showed terrific emotion–like he was truly excited to just be on the court. [/ref]. Thomas has appeared in a grand total of 23 NBA games (135 minutes) and has enjoyed a cup of coffee with six different teams in three years.
So, why does he make sense for Utah going forward? Thomas actually brings a lot of skills to the table. He is athletic and has a good motor. Thomas has good size and agility that might allow him to play both forward positions. Very similar to counterpart Jazz forward Jeremy Evans, he is a quick jumper, using that his advantage on the glass (especially offensive boards). Thomas is a willing defender, using his length and wingspan to disrupt things. He has good time when blocking shots, especially off the weak side. Lastly, he can stick the jumper–even extending out to 3-point range [ref]In his time with the Jazz, he has shown more perimeter prowess than Erik Murphy, who has the greater reputation of being a stretch four. [/ref].
Thomas would be in line for just $948K. Given his long, winding road, he is hungry to make a name for himself – something that is evident in the way he is playing for the Jazz. He has upside and could be a guy at the end of the bench that can continue to work on his game. In short, he’s a very low-risk, potential solid-reward type of move.
With shooting and defense being premiums, as stated often by general manager Dennis Lindsey and head coach Quin Snyder, Malcolm Thomas has every chance to find himself donning a Utah Jazz uniform come regular season tip-off.