Brooklyn Nets: Analyzing Cameron Thomas’ rookie year ceiling

Brooklyn Nets, Cameron Thomas (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Brooklyn Nets, Cameron Thomas (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images) /

The Brooklyn Nets find themselves under the strangest, yet also most exciting circumstances ahead the 2021-22 season.

Unlike nearly every other team, they do not need any more talent, nor do they need any more playmakers from an offensive standpoint. Locked and loaded with legendary scorers James Harden, Kevin Durant, and (hopefully) Kyrie Irving, Brooklyn represents an unstoppable offensive inferno, ready to set the entire league ablaze.

But even though Sean Marks knew of his team’s riches on draft night his past summer, he neglected to put down his shovel and stop digging for treasure. Instead, he found another valuable asset in shooting guard Cameron Thomas.

As an aggressive three-level scorer, the former LSU Tiger already looks like an absolute stud. He earned NBA Summer League co-MVP honors, averaging a whopping 27.0 points per game while shooting 36.0 percent from deep.

But even aside from his breathtaking stats, Thomas also dazzled fans with his abilities to perform during high-pressure situations. Illustrating his clutch genes, Thomas hit multiple buzzer-beating shots during the tournament as if he were fooling around in an empty gym.

What is Brooklyn Nets rookie Cameron Thomas’ ceiling?

Refusing to pump the brakes, Thomas also led all Brooklyn Nets during their first preseason game vs the Los Angeles Lakers. He contributed with 21 points while shooting 7-of-14 from the field. With Thomas having fallen to the Nets at No. 27, he already looks like a sure-fire steal, ready to play right away,

But again, due to the widely talented group surrounding him, the height to which Thomas might soar during his rookie campaign remains up for questioning. He probably starts on most bottom-tier teams this season and plays heavy minutes — but the Nets represent the farthest thing from that.

However, with Bruce Brown having fully moved into a point-forward role rather than a shooting guard spot, Thomas likely comes off the bench first to provide relief for Harden. Even with The Beard being an absolute grinder who averaged the most minutes per game on the team last year, this comes as a solid spot for Thomas to fill out.

In that position, he likely earns between 20-25 minutes a night this coming year, and possibly even more, especially during games where the Nets jump out to a sizable lead.

Based off his willingness to score and confidence, that leash leaves him with enough time to average double-digit scoring totals for the season, with a cap at 12.0 points per contest. That puts Thomas on par with rookie campaigns from Tyler Herro, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and Dillon Brooks.

Both Gilgeous-Alexander and Herro contributed strongly to playoff-bound teams during their rookie years, with one even making it to the NBA Finals, just as Thomas hopes to with the Nets. Each player also earned NBA All-Rookie Second Team honors, which too lies within Thomas’ reach.

If a worse-off team selected Thomas instead and fully handed him over the keys, he might even contend for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year Award. It feels incredibly hard to argue against that notion after his Summer League performance.

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However, the minutes swallowed up by Harden and (likely) Irving simply make this too difficult for him to attain as a Net this year. But regardless, earning an All-Rookie Second Team bid while putting up double digit scoring figures are both well-suited goals, and will certainly evoke pride if achieved.