Prospect Preview: Khyri Thomas

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

KHYRI THOMAS, G, CREIGHTON
Class: Junior
Ht: 6-foot-3
Wt: 198 pounds
2017-18 Stats: 15.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 2.8 apg

HOW HE OPERATES

There may be no better two-way player than Creighton’s Khyri Thomas, an athletic shooting guard who is one of the NBA Draft’s more underrated performers.

A second-team All-Big East selection in 2017-18, Thomas is also a two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year. Two passages from Creighton’s postseason review of his play illustrate the impact he had on that end of the court.

“The 11 players named to the (Big East) All-Conference Team that faced Creighton averaged 15.2 ppg…compared to 18.9 ppg in all other league contests, with most being guarded by Thomas.

“(Thomas is an) elite defender who has already held Yale’s Miye Oni (3-12 FG, 9 points), Baylor’s Manu Lecomte (2-8, 9), SIUE’s Daniel Kinchen (2-6, 6), Gonzaga’s Josh Perkins (0-2, 6), North Dakota’s Geno Crandall (1-5, 3), Nebraska’s Glynn Watson Jr. (4-14, 8), UMES’ Miryne Thomas (1-11, 2), Seton Hall’s Khadeen Carrrington (0-6, 4), St. John’s Shamorie Ponds (3-11, 7) and Xavier’s Trevon Bluiett (3-9, 6) to single-figures.”

More on that soon…

Offensively, Thomas projects to eventually be around a 20-points per game scorer who plays the game at lightning speed. He is one of the best 3-point shooters among the guards in the draft, making 41 percent of his tries. He’s a shot maker overall with averages of 53.8 percent from the field and 78 percent from the free throw line.

Thomas is athletic, boasting a 35-inch vertical leap, and finished with dunks whenever possible. Teammates threw the ball up to him for lobs as well in both transition and in half court situations in cuts to the rim. He was great in catch-and-shoot, averaging 42 percent in those actions. Thomas squares up to the rim quickly and launches with a smooth, quick release. He can be a good playmaker for others, but he’ll have to improve on his passing accuracy and some decision-making; he took a lot of chances with passes that were picked off for steals.

Defensively, he’s got all the tools. He’s got quick feet and good lateral movement to stay with ball handlers on the perimeter. He’s got the length and quick hands to dig out steals and pick off basketballs in passing lanes. He was good at contesting shots as well and showed a good motor when guarding. As Thomas gets into better shape, these things should all improve.

HIS BEST FIT

A team in need of perimeter defense that plays an up-tempo offensive style of basketball is an ideal situation for Thomas. Creighton played fast, and that accentuated all of Thomas’ strengths. He is not ideal for walk-it-up or read-and-react defense schemes. If he’s allowed to be aggressive and take some risks on the defensive end, he’ll win those battles more than he loses.

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter

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