Confidence, role spike for Thomas in second year

By: Kyle Bass, Hornets.com

Prior to the start of the 2011-12 NBA season, New Orleans Hornets forward Lance Thomas appeared to be in a similar situation to what he’s in now. He had just completed training camp and was playing significant minutes in preseason games.

The only difference is that the situation he’s in now is nothing like the situation he was in with the team last year.

Thomas enters his second season with the Hornets after taking a unique journey to earning a roster spot. The Duke University product was one of the few training camp invitees to make the opening day roster last season, but was waived by the team after just two games on Dec. 31, 2011. After his release, Thomas returned to the Austin Toros of the D-League and appeared in 19 games. He became a fan favorite in Austin, averaging 15.0 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game. Thomas’ play caught the attention of the New Orleans staff. He returned to the Hornets in February 2012.

Due to injuries to frontcourt players such as Emeka Okafor and Carl Landry, Thomas took advantage of the opportunity for playing time. After two 10-day contracts, the former McDonald’s high school All-American was signed for the rest of the season due to his effort and intensity shown on defense. The time in Austin may prove to be exactly what Thomas needed to carve out a future in the NBA.

Fast-forward to fall 2012, and Thomas is now a more experienced player with the confidence needed to play in the NBA. He spent the offseason training in New Orleans and participating as a member of the 2012 U.S. Men’s Select Team. Thomas led the Hornets in scoring (14 ppg), rebounding (7.2 rpg), and minutes (32.6 mpg) at the NBA Summer League in Las Vegas. The Brooklyn, N.Y., native is looking to build off this summer and become an important piece to the team’s development. He hopes his defensive intensity and energy can help the Hornets win more games this season.

“I want to be more consistent knocking down open shots,” he said. “I want to continue to be able to guard every position, 1 through 5. The key is for me to bring energy and make sure the level of play is high when I get in the game.”