With the NBA season being suspended indefinitely, we're taking the next couple of weeks to roll out our Raptors Report Cards on each key member of this season's team. The plan? Take a closer look at how everyone performed, from Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam to Terence Davis and Chris Boucher.
Next up: Matt Thomas.
The Toronto Raptors signed Matt Thomas in the offseason in the hope that he could do one particular thing at a high level - shoot.
In that regard, he hasn't disappointed.
Of the 111 shots Thomas has attempted through 33 games this season, 75 have come from beyond the 3-point line, giving him the second-highest 3-point attempt rate (.676) on the Raptors. He's converted those opportunities at a high rate, making 46.7 percent of his 3-point attempts.
It's on a relatively small sample size, but those numbers place Thomas in the upper echelon of shooters this season. Of qualified players who are taking at least 2.0 3-pointers per game - a low bar in today's 3-point happy league that spits out 257 names - only two have made a higher percentage of their 3s than Thomas.
Those players? Portland Trail Blazers guard Rodney Hood (49.3 percent), who has been sidelined since the beginning of December with a season-ending injury, and Milwaukee Bucks guard George Hill (48.0 percent).
Thomas isn't just a standstill shooter either. Although almost all of his 3s have been catch-and-shoot, he's scored an almost equal amount of points running off of screens (36) than he has on spot-ups (41). The combination means he's not someone teams can help off of or lose sight of in the halfcourt. If they do, they risk him relocating to create a passing lane or manipulating a screen to his advantage to get open.
Thomas has shown on more than one occasion that he can get hot, too.
On Feb. 2, Thomas scored a career-high 15 points on 3-for-4 shooting from 3-point range in a win over the Brooklyn Nets.
Find the shooter pic.twitter.com/Gx9OKBm6cf- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 9, 2020
Two weeks later, Thomas set a new career-high with 17 points on 5-for-7 shooting from 3-point range in a record-setting win over the Indiana Pacers.
Career-night for Mr. 99%.- Toronto Raptors (@Raptors) February 24, 2020
17 Pts | 5 3PM@Theiceman_21 | #WeTheNorth pic.twitter.com/ojJT5QQ3jt
More recently, Thomas came off the bench to hit three 3-pointers within a span of two minutes against the Milwaukee Bucks.
Raptors rookie Matt Thomas came out and torched the Bucks for three 3PTs in 5 mins 👀 pic.twitter.com/xKcTyZkqOJ- Bleacher Report NBA (@BR_NBA) February 26, 2020
Beyond that, it's hard to evaluate Thomas' season simply because he hasn't had much of an opportunity. He's appeared in only 33 games and logged an average of 9.7 minutes, the majority of which have come in garbage time. Ultimately, we still haven't seen enough to know whether or not he's going to be more than a zone buster in the playoffs.
The two biggest questions Thomas still has to answer:
- Can he hold up defensively? Thomas competes, but defence was seen as his biggest weakness coming into the NBA. You best believe that teams like the Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers, Miami Heat and Boston Celtics will test his ability to guard bigger and stronger players in the playoffs.
- How well rounded is he? There is more to Thomas' game than meets the eye - he's capable of pulling-up from midrange, he's a decent cutter and he's a better passer than you'd expect - but how will he respond when teams key in on his strengths? Will he be able to make a consistent impact when teams run him off the 3-point line?
The encouraging sign is that Thomas was coming off of his best and most consistent month yet before the season was suspended. The hope is that he'll continue to build off of that if/when the season resumes.
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