There is something to be said about a big man who can score in a variety of ways. Too often in our game today, the ginormous monsters we call centers lack the skills we grew accustomed to seeing from some of the greats, such as Shaquille O'Neal, Patrick Ewing, Kevin McHale and Hakeem Olajuwon. Nowadays, it's a rare sight for a 7-footer to use his power to bulldoze his way to the rim, only to capitalise on the opportunity with a feathery soft hook shot. In fact, more often than not, they are seen as a liability, as teams like the Miami Heat use "small ball" to stretch the floor and run teams out of the gym.
So when someone like Malcolm Thomas comes along, who has the skill-set to both make teams pay with his back to the basket, as well as from the perimeter, it's hard not to fall in loves with his game.
In the D-Fenders' season debut, Thomas scored a game-high 36 points on an array of post-moves that would even make the Barkley's and Shaq's of the world proud. But aside from those sky-hooks and thunderous dunks, he tantalised the crowd with a pair of threes, showing off just how versatile of a big man he actually is. But were they a sign of things to come or were they simple heat checks on a night he was feeling it?
Well, last night he gave us the answers we were looking for.
In the first quarter against the Warriors, Thomas was nowhere to be found down in the low-block, but for good reason. With seasoned veteran Hilton Armstrong guarding him, the game plan was simple: Force Thomas to beat us in any way that doesn't involve him pounding his way to the basket. For that reason, the San Diego State product found himself on the three with nobody within 10-feet of him. So in the opening minute of the game, he put one up with the shot-clock winding down and sure enough, it went in. Then, a few minutes later, he set a screen for Josiah Turner, popped out to the three and nailed a second one. From then on, he was locked in. Thomas would go on to knock down another two threes in that quarter, giving him 14 points in the opening 12 minutes of the game. By the end of the night, he knocked down six treys en route to another dominating performance: 31 points on 11-for-20 shooting and 13 rebounds.
After two games, Thomas' season averages now stand at 33.5 points, 15.5 rebounds and 2.0 blocks on 62.2 percent shooting from the floor and 61.5 percent from the three. Unfortunately, those numbers are yet to get the D-Fenders a win, as they are now 0-2 on the season, but nevertheless, Thomas has looked spectacular. Not only that, but he continues to prove why he's the number one prospect in the D-League with his ability to score in a variety of ways and pull down every rebound in sight.
I've said this once and I'll say it again: At this rate, NBA teams would be silly not to take a chance on Thomas.