Nets’ Cam Thomas impressing, but likely won’t play

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Despite a strong preseason and fantastic performance in the NBA Summer League, it seems as if Nets first-round pick Cam Thomas will start off his NBA career watching and learning.

Even without Kyrie Irving, who for the time being isn’t a member of the team after his refusal to follow New York City COVID-19 vaccine mandates, the Nets still have plenty of veteran guards ahead of Thomas, a one-and-done star from LSU.

“Might be tough for him with all the vets. I think the gap that he has to make up in understanding the game at this level, the defense, all those things where he still needs development, [could take time],” head coach Steve Nash said. “He just turned 20. He’s gonna play a much different game and role than he’s used to playing.”

The 6-foot-5 Thomas averaged 10.5 points and 2.5 rebounds during four preseason games and was the co-MVP in the Las Vegas Summer League. James Harden has raved about Thomas, saying the rookie is a more advanced scorer than he was at that age. But the Nets are title contenders, and the addition of experienced guards such as Jevon Carter and Patty Mills could make it difficult for Thomas to get on the floor initially.

Cam Thomas
Cam Thomas
USA TODAY Sports

“I think there’s some ground for him to make up, but we love him as a player and think he’s got a bright future, but it might take some time,” Nash said. “He’s joined a pretty tough team to crack into.”


Nash, Blake Griffin and LaMarcus Aldridge all insisted Saturday that there won’t be any extra motivation on opening night when they see the Bucks, the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last June. But facing the reigning champions will provide a glimpse of what they hope to accomplish this year, and how hard it can be.

“We remind ourselves not to take anything for granted,” Griffin said. “Injuries, whatever it is, can happen, and that’s a part of it.”


Aldridge doesn’t expect to have to battle nerves on opening night after briefly retiring last April following heart problems. The fact that his first regular-season game back will come against the physical Bucks only adds to his excitement.

“That’s what I am. I’ll take that all day,” he said with a smile. “I’m a post player, I like the [hard] contact and play. It sounds good to me.”


The Nets announced Saturday they have converted undrafted rookie David Duke Jr.’s exhibit 10 contract into a two-way deal.



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