By: Kyle Bass, Hornets.com
May 17, 2012
Hornets.com continues its look back at the 2011-12 season with player-by-player analysis of the team:
When Lance Thomas was waived by the Hornets on Dec. 31, its likely not many Hornets fans expected him to return and start in 10 games, including the last six, for the team this season. However, through hard work and determination, the former collegiate national champion from Duke University found his way back into the NBA and earned a roster spot for the rest of the season.
Thomas was originally signed by the Hornets as a free agent last Dec. 9, and was one of three training camp invitees remaining with the team in the regular season opener at Phoenix on Dec. 26. His first stint with the team was short-lived though. After brief appearances in the first two home games, Thomas was waived just one day after a 93-78 home loss to Phoenix on Dec. 30.
Just five days later, Thomas was back in an Austin Toros jersey after he had played in four games for the D-League team from Nov. 26 to Dec. 7. He then appeared in 15 games for the Toros during January and the beginning of February, averaging 15.2 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 32.6 minutes. He recorded five double-doubles while with the Toros and was named to the 2012 NBA D-League All-Star team, before the Hornets decided to sign him to a 10-day contract on Feb. 6, just two days after Carl Landry and Jason Smith suffered injuries in a loss at Detroit.
In the five games during his first 10-day contract, Thomas showed the kind of defensive intensity and effort that head coach Monty Williams and staff expected out of their players and earned a second 10-day contract after Emeka Okafor suffered a season-ending knee injury Feb. 10. With three key frontcourt members slated to miss significant time due to injuries, the front office decided to sign Thomas for the rest of the season on Feb. 27 at the conclusion of All-Star weekend.
Following the All-Star break, Thomas helped the Hornets to a 13-20 record after the team started the season just 8-25 prior to the break. Thomas was on the roster for 19 of the teams 21 total wins, and appeared in 17 of those wins. Over the last 33 games, the former McDonalds High School All-American averaged 12.8 points, 8.4 rebounds and 1.0 assists per 48 minutes, but the true impact of his play cannot be measured by statistics.
The Brooklyn native is looking to carve out his niche in this league, and thinks he can do that by hustling and raising the energy level on the court. I play hard every second. Energy is what I bring to the game, says Thomas. I always want to increase the level of play when I get on the floor.
Apparently he caught the attention of his coaches, especially head man Williams. He just goes after it every possession, says Williams. Hes a hungry guy.
On March 9, just 10 days after he signed a contract with the Hornets for the remainder of the season, Thomas proved that he was more than capable of a career in the NBA. In a road game against the Denver Nuggets, the Duke product took advantage of an unexpected opportunity and led the team in points. With Emeka Okafor, Carl Landry and Jason Smith all unavailable due to injuries, Thomas scored 18 points, grabbed five rebounds and recorded one steal in 30 minutes of action.
The 30 minutes marked a season-high for Thomas at the time, and he made sure to capitalize on the extra playing time. Lance used his aggressiveness and effort to attack the basket and ended up shooting 14 free throws, connecting on 12 of those attempts, both of which marked Hornets individual season-highs. I just wanted to play hard when I had the opportunity to play big minutes. I wanted to make the most of it, Thomas said. I dont know how many times I went to the free throw line, but I just attacked it and played as hard as I could.
Thomas is an unrestricted free agent, but he expects to play for the Hornets summer league team and to train in New Orleans over the summer. However, as an unrestricted free agent, he has the freedom to sign with any organization that pursues him.
|ADDITIONAL 2011-12 SEASON IN REVIEWS|
|JASON SMITH||JARRETT JACK||GUSTAVO AYON|
|MARCO BELINELLI||LANCE THOMAS||XAVIER HENRY|
|EMEKA OKAFOR||CHRIS KAMAN||ERIC GORDON|
|GREIVIS VASQUEZ||AL-FAROUQ AMINU||TREVOR ARIZA|
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