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NBA Draft 2006 | Thomas relieved to land in Chicago

Thomas relieved to land in Chicago
Bulls GM Paxson calls former LSU star the "top talent" from NBA Draft 2006

Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha "I think we have bolstered our defense, but we also have become a versatile basketball team," said John Paxson of his new players, Tyrus Thomas and Thabo Sefolosha.
Bulls Draft Central
Pre-Draft Interview with Tyrus Thomas
Photo Gallery: Thomas & Sefolosha Introduced

Posted June 30, 2006

In a draft where Bulls GM John Paxson wanted to address the team’s length and athleticism, he did just that with the team’s top pick, scoring a phenomenal athlete in former LSU star Tyrus Thomas. Chicago also added Swiss guard Thabo Sefolosha and Viktor Khryapa via a pair of draft night deals. Thomas and Sefolosha were in town Thursday to meet the media at the Berto Center, and Bulls.com caught up with Thomas in between the press conference and a photo shoot.

Bulls.com: How was draft night for you and when did you first know that you’d be coming to Chicago?
Tyrus Thomas: “It’s just a huge relief. When I was going through the last two or three months, I had no idea where I’d end up. To finally learn and know where I’m going to be is a relief. I first heard of the trade when Toronto was on the clock [for the first pick]. Basically, I found out when my agent got a call and he told me. All that I can say about it is that this is a huge relief. It was so stressful not to know where I was going and where I was going to be. I’m happy to get this behind me and start working here in Chicago.”

Bulls.com: Your first workout for the Bulls got cut short, but you canceled a workout in Portland to make it up. How did you feel about your standing with the Bulls after the pair of sessions?
Thomas: “I felt good, to be honest, but I knew that this was a business and that anything could happen. You might be the best player in the world, but it’s a business and if someone might be better for a certain team or organization, that’s the guy they might go with. I tried not to get my hopes up and just went with the flow. But I felt like things had gone pretty well here.”

Bulls.com: John Paxson calls you a unique player with versatility that does not have a set position right now. Is that a good thing?
Thomas: “I think so. I think that I can play several positions on the floor, both offensively and defensively. That’s exactly what makes my game unique. I’m happy to be here because I know that Coach Skiles and the rest of his staff are going to help polish all parts of my game. I can play the four, or I can play the three. On defense, depending on who is out there, I feel like I can guard just about anybody. I’m looking forward to polishing all the parts of my game, and hopefully becoming a terrific player down the road.”

Bulls.com: You said before the draft that you didn’t get to play as much of a perimeter game at LSU as you would have liked. Do you think that will change in the NBA?
Thomas: “I hope so. I’m just eager to get out on the practice floor and have Coach Skiles work with me on all aspects of my game. I’m ready to come to work and become a better player.”

Bulls.com: Do you feel your outside jump shot has gotten more consistent this summer?
Thomas: “Everyone says it has gotten more consistent, but how much did I really get to shoot it in college? I don’t think anyone can really gauge where it was then and where it is now because I didn’t shoot it a lot at LSU. I’m just ready to play ball right now.”

Bulls.com: What do you think you need to do the most to adjust to playing at the next level?
Thomas: “I’m just going to work on staying focused. I feel like if I can stay focused and work hard, everything else will fall into place.”

Tyrus Thomas "We feel his potential is better than anyone else’s in this draft," said Paxson of Thomas. "We think that, given a couple years under our system and in our environment, this kid is going to blossom. We have high hopes for him."
(Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)
Bulls.com: You’ve lived in Baton Rouge all your life, so you’ll encounter a major off the court change in scenery too. How do you think you’ll like living in Chicago?
Thomas: “I’m a very low-key guy. The big city life won’t bother me. I might go down and watch a couple of WNBA games and I’m definitely going to take in a couple baseball games this summer. Later on, I hope to go to some football games, too. I’m not big into clubs or the nightlife, so they won’t have to worry about me. I’m excited about getting to know Chicago. I can’t wait to get downtown and look around.”

Bulls.com: Your new teammates include Luol Deng, Andrés Nocioni and Tyson Chandler. What do you know about those players’ games?
Thomas: “I’ve watched all of those guys play and I hope to learn a lot from them. I think you have to respect the game, but you can’t fear it. I respect those guys for what they’ve done—I haven’t done anything yet. I respect them for what they’ve accomplished and where they’re at and I’m going to try and get all the knowledge and experience that I can from them when we’re on the floor and it’s time to work. I’ll be here ready to go.”

Bulls.com: Do you have any expectations for what your rookie season might hold? Have you thought about any personal goals yet?
Thomas: “I just hope to do my best. That’s all that I can expect out of myself. The only goal you can really set is to do your best. My best might not mean Rookie of the Year, but if it’s my best effort, then I can’t complain. I know that if I do my best, I’m going to be satisfied and everything else will take care of itself.”

Bulls.com: What are your thoughts on playing summer league basketball?
Thomas: “I’ll be there, that’s a definite. I’m excited and ready to play. I can’t wait to get together with the coaches to have them teach me and help with my experience.”

Bulls.com: What do you know about fellow rookie and new teammate, Thabo Sefolosha, so far?
Thomas: “Thabo and I actually worked out in the same gym in Orlando once before the draft. He’s a good player from what I know. I haven’t seen him on film, but I think he’s going to be alright. I’m just glad I have another guy around who’s going to be a rookie so we can go through this thing together. Hopefully, we’ll make it easier for each other.”

Bulls.com: Now that you’ve got that Bulls jersey across your chest, how does it feel?
Thomas: “First off, depending on what happens with Othella Harrington and the Bulls, I’d like to change my number to 24. My number in college was 12, and my friend, Ryan Francis who played at USC [and was fatally shot], also wore number 12. I’m going to put our numbers together to make 24 if Othella doesn’t return. Otherwise, I’ll stick with 32. I knew Ryan since we were about eight or nine years old. He wasn’t a high school teammate; actually we were rivals in high school, but we played in summer leagues together all the time. We’d go head-to-head and go at it, then after the game we’d hang out. But it feels good to have the Bulls jersey on. I’m ready to play.”

— Adam Fluck | Bulls.com