Wizards

Cameron Thomas has intriguing offensive upside in '21 NBA Draft

Wizards

The Washington Wizards are picking squarely in the middle of the first round of the 2021 NBA Draft. Whether Washington trades up, down or stays firm at No. 15, here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who the Wizards could consider selecting.

2021 NBA Draft Prospect Preview: Cam Thomas

School/team: LSU

Position: Shooting guard

Age: 19

Height: 6-4

Weight: 210

Wingspan: Unknown

2020/21 stats: 29 G, 23.0 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.4 apg, 0.9 spg, 0.2 bpg, 40.6 FG% (7.0/17.2), 32.5 3PT% (2.3/7.2), 88.2 FT%

Player comparison: CJ McCollum

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 20th, Sports Illustrated 22nd, Ringer 21st, NBADraft.net 20th, Bleacher Report 22nd

5 things to know:

- There literally was not a better freshman scorer last season than Cam Thomas. During the 2020-21 season, he outscored all freshman in the country. More points than Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley and Jalen Suggs. All of it coming on a good LSU squad too. He'll bring with him an outstanding scoring ability to the NBA and a range that will make teams salivate. 

- In prep school, he played on a loaded team his junior season with Oak Hill Academy. He was teammates alongside the Orlando Magic's Cole Anthony and consensus All-American Kofi Cockburn. With those outstanding players, Thomas was still the leading scorer of the bunch with 26.2 points per game. 

- Teams will love his creative versatility from behind the arc. His range is just shy of what is considered only available to Damion Lillard and Steph Curry. If his defender goes under a screen, you can bet Thomas will take that shot. He possesses a good midrange game as well and is a constant threat.

 

- Even with a less-than-ideal shooting figure, it's still surprising to see such a deep projection. Lapses on defense are what has ultimately killed his draft stock. His energy levels seen on offense aren't reflected on defense. Wherever he goes, the coaching staff will be tasked with hiding him before they can build up his defensive skill set. 

- One of Thomas' basketball idols was the late Kobe Bryant. At a young age, he was able to convince his mom to paint his room Lakers' colors - purple and gold. Fortunately for Thomas, purple and gold became his wardrobe when he went to Baton Rouge. 

Fit with Wizards:

Similar to the elements that James Bouknight would bring to Washington would be reflected in Cameron Thomas. 

He would be an electric scorer off the bench, more so than even what Bouknight would provide. A microwave scorer would be huge to add to a Wizards squad that lacked depth for much of the past several seasons. Additionally, there's potential to be a catch-and-shoot option if rotated into the starting rotation. He may be a volume shooter but has shown to do well even in short spurts.

The flipside is, can the Wizards afford to add a scorer that doesn't provide much defensively? Granted, he'll be playing vs. other second-unit players but it's not an element of his game that can be overlooked.

Washington did improve its defensive numbers slightly last season but remain nowhere near that of most playoff teams. If Thomas is selected by the Wizards, their defense won't be getting any better. 

Still, he's young and he can score. Most of the time teams can work around other issues. No one will be complaining in D.C. if Thomas brought his consistent scoring prowess to the Wizards.