Cam Thomas is a bucket. He just needed Kyrie Irving's exit to show his stuff.
The second-year Nets guard has seen extended run in Brooklyn's lineup since Irving's trade request on Friday. He dropped 44 points in a win over the Washington Wizards on Saturday with Irving out of the lineup. On Monday, just hours after Irving's trade to the Dallas Mavericks was made official, he one-upped himself with a 47-point effort against the Los Angeles Clippers.
Unfortunately for the Nets, they lost Monday's game, 124-116. But Thomas appears more than ready for his shot. The Nets have a glaring scoring hole in the aftermath of the Irving trade as Kevin Durant remains sidelined with a knee injury. Thomas appears more than ready to fill it.
He hit five first-half 3-pointers in a 22-point effort before halftime against the Clippers. He finished shooting 15 of 29 from the field including 7 of 11 from 3-point distance while adding four rebounds and three assists to his 47-point line. He showed off his skills at the rim and from the mid-range in addition to his long-distance prowess.
— BballCrazy® (@BballCrazy) February 7, 2023
The performance made him the second-youngest player in NBA history to score 40-plus points in consecutive games. Thomas was 21 years, 116 days old on Monday. The youngest? That honor belongs to LeBron James, who's 36 points away from becoming the NBA's all-time scoring leader.
We're not suggesting that Thomas will one day challenge James' soon-to-be NBA scoring title. Just that that's impressive company.
The Nets selected Thomas out of LSU with the No. 27 pick in last year's draft. He averaged 8.5 points in 17.6 minutes per game as a rookie. Prior to Monday, he'd averaged 8.4 points in 14.5 minutes per game this season. He connected on 40% of his 3-pointers in his limited action. Since Irving's trade request, he's averaged 45.5 points in 34 minutes per game.
It's obviously not a sustainable pace, and Thomas will take a secondary role if and when Durant returns this season. But there's a bright side to the disappointment of this Nets season that saw its championship hopes predictably torpedoed by Irving. His name is Cam Thomas.