NBA: Ohio State's Thomas hoping scoring, energy elevate him in draft

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Kyle Robertson | dispatch
Deshaun Thomas will need to switch from power forward to small forward to make it in the NBA.

Some of his test results at the NBA predraft combine a month ago were not what he hoped they would be.

Since then, Deshaun Thomas has traversed the country, trying to show NBA teams he has value beyond those numbers.

Whether he was successful will be known on Thursday night in the NBA draft. The 30 teams will select a total of 60 players. Thomas, the leading scorer in the Big Ten last season as an Ohio State junior, is not certain to be among them.

He believes that there is a place for him somewhere.

“A lot of guys in the NBA have roles … where they knock down shots or bring great energy,” he said last week while in Phoenix awaiting a workout with the Suns. “I look at a guy like (San Antonio Spurs guard) Danny Green, who can knock down shots, who isn’t that good on the defensive end but he gets a lot of deflections just by playing as hard as he can. I can play a role like that.”

Green was cut by both the Cleveland Cavaliers, who drafted him, and the Spurs in 2010 before establishing himself this season as a perimeter shooting threat, particularly in the playoffs. He set a record for most three-pointers made in an NBA Finals.

Dan Dakich, a former college coach and now an ESPN analyst, also mentioned Green when asked whether there is a place for Thomas in the NBA. He said Green finally stuck in the league “because he figured out, ‘It’s important to me.’ Basketball is really important to Deshaun.”

The other thing, Dakich said, is that Thomas has a knack for scoring in different ways, either from the perimeter or around the basket in traffic.

“If I was an NBA team, I would draft him,” Dakich said. “I don’t know where, but if I liked him even a little, I would draft him. He can score, and if you watched the NBA Finals, if you can score, if you get on the right team, you can play.”

Thomas has hung his hat on scoring since he took his first dribbles. He was the third-leading scorer in Indiana high-school history, and he averaged 19.8 points for Ohio State last season despite facing defenses designed to stop him.

In college, however, he played power forward, a position in which he often was matched up against bigger players he could outmaneuver. As a pro, he will be a small forward going against lighter, quicker and more athletic opponents.

His ability to defend them, and get his shot against them, is what he had to prove to NBA teams the past three weeks. He will have worked out for more than a dozen by the time he finishes in Detroit on Wednesday.

“I’ve been showing them in these workouts that I can compete and play good defense,” he said. “A lot of these coaches, they want to see guys do what they can do, but they also want to see if you can compete at a high level. That’s what I’ve been focusing on.”

When Thomas opted to enter the draft after the season, he was viewed as a mid to high second-round choice. But his stock seems to have fallen since he was measured at the combine with 9.1 percent body fat, sixth-highest among the players there, and finished the lane-agility test in 12.94 seconds, slowest among the 51 players timed.

By last week, two reliable mock drafts had dropped him into the 40-60 range.

“I don’t pay too much attention to” the speculation, Thomas said. His latest body-fat measurement was 7.5 percent, he said, and “I haven’t gotten any negative feedback from teams.

“You just go in there and try to control what you can control. The only thing you can do is give it your all and give it your best and go on from there.”

bbaptist@dispatch.com

@BBaptistHoops

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