On late Saturday afternoon, it was announced that NBA journeyman Malcolm Thomas was acquired off waivers from Utah after being released from San Antonio earlier in the week. Prior to his less than stellar stint with the Spurs, Thomas worked his way between multiple minor NBA call-ups (Chicago and Golden State), overseas and the NBADL where he showcased his wide variety of assets that has made him into an internet darling.
Standing at 6’9 with a superb 7’2 wingspan, Thomas has always been in that weird tweener category between SF and PF which has more than likely kept him out of a long-term stint in the NBA. Another possible contributing factor behind Thomas’s career struggles might possibly center around his issues as a mid-range/perimeter shooting threat. Before the ’13-14 season, Thomas was basically limited to being an athletic PnR man who would strictly work his way into the restricted area where he showcased a nice touch around the basket.
As he transitioned to the 2013-14 season, the aforementioned perimeter issues were quickly thrown into the trash as Thomas became the NBADL’s version of Ersan Ilyasova. During his multiple D-League stints with the LA D-Fenders and Austin Toros, Thomas shot a superb 42.5% from beyond the arc which could further showcase his potential to play at both forward positions.
With his perimeter skills in place, there shouldn’t really be any questions surrounding Malcolm Thomas as a viable offensive threat on a weak Jazz bench. As previously mentioned, Thomas can utilize his solid 7’2 wingspan and solid footwork to be a solid post-up threat. While Thomas is down low, he’s continued to showcase himself as a very good offensive rebounder by averaging around 4.0 offensive boards per game during his D-League career. Even though Thomas was never a solid perimeter shooter until this season, he was still an excellent roll man in PnR’s which could put him into an immediate role in Utah’s offense. Besides Derrick Favors, there really isn’t a viable Jazz front-court player who can work with Trey Burke who has showcased himself as one of the best PnR guards in the league.
While Thomas can be a solid fixture into Utah’s offense, his skills on the defensive end could actually be better. Utilizing the aforementioned wingspan and quick footwork, Thomas can overcome his undersized 6’8 frame to be a solid defensive player. Per 36 minutes, Thomas averaged a pretty solid 2.6 blocks which would actually put him near the top of Utah’s roster. Even though Thomas can have brief lapses where he loses focus when he’s work in man-to-man situations, he’s showcased himself to be an extremely good help defender.
The addition of Malcolm Thomas may seem to be a minor move in the grand scheme of Utah’s 2013-14 season, but he definitely has potential to be a solid point on an otherwise weak Jazz bench. With his solid overall work on the offensive end combined with a standout defensive game, Thomas is definitely a player worthy of playing time in the NBA.
That said, the signing of Thomas could lead to a potential trade deadline move surrounding Marvin Williams or Jeremy Evans. While Thomas clearly doesn’t have the NBA experience of Williams or Evans, his overall upside could be enough to make one of those players redundant.
Could Thomas be a viable fit on Utah’s bench that could lead to a potential move during the trade deadline? Or will he be placed in the Jerel McNeal category in which he receives a guaranteed deal but barely gets an on-court opportunity? We’re about to find out.