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Tyrus Thomas: Building block for the future

Over Tyrus Thomas’s 5 year career in the league he has never started a full season for a team, or even stayed healthy and played a full season for that matter. Nevertheless, Charlotte signed Thomas to a 5-year extension in the summer of 2010 for about $40 million and proclaimed him a big piece to their potential success moving forward.

Thomas’s performance in the Bobcats playoff series with Orlando in 2010 could’ve had a lot to do with why the team decided to sign him long term. Thomas finished the series and the season with 21 PTS and 9 REB to keep Charlotte in the game almost by himself, knocking down one 16-foot jumper after another. An offensive side of Thomas that no one thought existed.

In the 2010-11 season the organization had very high hopes for Thomas, but his career seemed to follow the same path it had been on for the first four seasons. Knee and rib injuries only allowed him to play seven games after the all-star break and Thomas only ended the season competing in 41 games for Charlotte. Although he has battled injuries and off court problems all of his career thus far, he has never been in the situation that he’s in with Charlotte. He will be the clear cut starting PF in the 2012-13 season, after Boris Diaw leaves, but considering the Bobcats have so much invested in Thomas and are simply paying out Diaw’s player option, it’s hard to believe that the team wouldn’t try to get him on the court just as much, if not more, than Diaw. For those sitting there screaming Biyombo into the computer screen, remember, he’s only 19 years old.

Thomas is only 25 years old and a former 4th overall draft pick by Portland in 2006. Over his 5 year career in the league Tyrus has consistently averaged right around 20 min/game. He has a career scoring average of 8.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG and 1.4 BPG. Sure, he hasn’t met the expectations many had for him thus far in his career, but he’s still extremely young and has a franchise that has awarded him with a big contract to prove to him that they believe in his potential and consider him a big piece moving forward.

There are few players in the league that possess the athletic prowess that Thomas does. He stands at 6’10 and I believe could be considered amongst the best post defenders in the league with more playing time. Thomas is an incredible leaper and a phenomenal shot blocker. Although a little bit clumsy defending players outside of the paint, he definitely makes up for it around the basket as he plays like a 7-footer protecting the rim. Tyrus’s weakness has always been how limited he is on the offensive end of the floor with a mediocre mid-range jumper (but one that has drastically improved) and an inability to finish on the post with his back to the basket. Tyrus has always liked to face the basket and beat the defender with his athleticism, but he’s a little out of control at times and tends to not draw as many fouls as most would think. After the 2010 season Tyrus had eye popping numbers per 36 minutes played. He was averaging 9.1 REB, 2.6 BLK, and 1.6 steals, which was nearly doubling the output of a guy like LaMarcus Aldridge in these categories. So what’s the difference with the two? Simple, Thomas has never gotten consistent 30+ minute games in the league. Next season will hopefully bring this opportunity for Tyrus.

Regardless of how you view Tyrus Thomas as a player, he is a big piece of the Charlotte organization moving forward. The guy is only 25 years old and has never gotten the consistent playing time in the league that many would have expected for him at this point. Tyrus has obviously not even sniffed his potential yet and his age suggest that he’s a few years away from the prime in his career, so there is a lot of reason to be optimistic about Tyrus Thomas. Jump on the wagon Bobcats fans because you’re going to see a lot of this young player for many years to come.