Pelicans Offseason Update: Lance Thomas

By: Kyle Bass,

Leading up to the 2013 NBA Draft on June 27, will provide a player-by-player examination of the New Orleans Pelicans, with input from various sources. We’ll review the 2012-13 campaign of each New Orleans player who appeared in at least half of the team’s games, while also looking ahead to the inaugural 2013-14 Pelicans season. continues its offseason updates by profiling Lance Thomas, a reserve for the majority of his second season with the team:

Lance Thomas
Key averages: 2.5 points, 1.9 rebounds

After a strong 2012 summer that included participating with the U.S. Men’s Select Team and leading the New Orleans NBA Summer League team in Las Vegas, Lance Thomas entered the 2012-13 season with a new outlook. Rather than just surviving in the NBA and making a roster, Thomas looked to make an impact for the Pelicans by providing intensity, energy and consistency each night he stepped on the floor. The former Duke product did just that, carving out his niche as an energetic defender who did the little things like making hustle plays and providing a spark off the bench. New Orleans’ opponents in 2012-13 recorded a lower field goal percentage, lower three-point percentage and lower average points per game when Thomas was on the floor. Thomas gave head coach Monty Williams the flexibility to tinker with his lineup as the athletic forward showed the ability to guard perimeter players as well as players in the post. In addition to bringing energy to the court, Thomas set out to become a more consistent shooter heading into the 2012-13 season. The 6-foot-8 forward connected on 45.2 percent of his field goal attempts during the 2011-12 season, but raised his field goal percentage to 50 during the 2012-13 season. The area of the court where Thomas improved his shooting most was from the 15-24 foot range, where he connected on 43.5 percent of his shots in 2012-13 compared to 36.4 from that distance during the 2011-12 season. His improved play led to 59 appearances and nine starts. As he heads into the 2013 offseason, Thomas is looking to make even larger strides to prepare for the franchise’s first season as the rebranded New Orleans Pelicans.

Despite the outcome, a March 12 trip home to Brooklyn proved to be just what Thomas needed to produce his finest game of the season. Playing in front of friends and family at the Barclays Center, the Brooklyn-born Thomas set a season-high with 12 points while shooting a perfect 4-for-4 from the field and from the charity stripe. In addition, he also grabbed four rebounds while recording two steals and one block in just 17 minutes during the 108-98 loss to the Nets.

"This summer I want to work on developing my offensive game a little bit more, having more go-to moves and one-on-one stuff. I want to continue to stretch my shooting range out and get stronger. I just want to compete and play more this whole summer than I did last summer. I’m probably going to take a couple weeks off, but then get right back at it. I’ll be here in New Orleans for most of the summer." – Lance Thomas "Lance has demonstrated an unmatched work ethic and desire to improve. His commitment to improving his jump shot and overall game is a testament to that. We were able to play Lance at three positions this year, which shows his continued improvement and worth to the team. Being able to utilize his defensive tenacity and versatility to guard any position 1 through 5 also provided help with game-planning and schemes. He may have been the best at following game-plan discipline and understanding player tendencies on defense. As his offensive game catches up with his defense, Lance will continue to carve out a niche in the league." - Assistant coach Kevin Hanson What areas does Lance Thomas need to improve most to better his chances of an increased role in the NBA?

"Lance will have to extend his shooting range – not to the three-point line but, at least, to become a consistent shooter from 14 to 15 feet. He’s extremely smart and rarely is out of position offensively or defensively, but he’s undersized for a power forward and doesn’t have great range for a small forward. His greatest talents are that he doesn’t relax for a single second, that he always gives maximum effort and plays within his boundaries. But it’d help his cause to become more of an offensive threat, given that he already is a fairly effective defender even though he usually is guarding a bigger opponent." - Radio analyst John DeShazier