First you see him. Then you don’t. That’s the mystery of Tyrus Thomas.
Tyrus Thomas exploded in yesterday’s loss against Detroit, recording 14 points, 16 rebounds, and a block in only his second start of the preseason, helping to keep the Cats in contention until the final buzzer. Thomas was 7-of-12 from the field, and four of his boards came on the offensive glass.
Until the showdown in Motown against the Pistons, Thomas had been seldom used in the Cats’ previous contests, with 14 minutes and four field-goal attempts as preseason highs. Yet this game could either be the start of a very different (and good) trend for Thomas, or simply an outlier that won’t be witnessed again in several weeks. Thomas was a highly-touted double-double machine from LSU who was drafted fourth overall in the 2006 NBA Draft, but has only averaged double-digit scoring in three of his seven seasons, and has yet to average double-digit rebounding numbers in a single season. He has been plagued by inconsistencies on the offensive end, and sometimes lackluster effort when not getting the ball, resulting in him riding the pine so much last season.
Following the game, head coach Mike Dunlap said he feels that Thomas has been playing with more confidence recently. This new-found confidence is something that Charlotte fans would have enjoyed seeing earlier in Thomas’ tenure with the team; however, late is better than never, and finding a double-double threat at the power forward position would be reassuring heading into the season.
Thomas still has plenty of work to do to obtain a starter’s role, or see significant minutes off the bench. There’s still time for him to impress Dunlap before the preseason ends, yet Thomas may have the chips stacked against him, as Dunlap is sure to give Byron Mullins (who had the night off) more chances to show his expanded range at the four, or give Bismack Biyombo more time to develop. Yet Dunlap has said that everyone has a shot to make a name for themselves this season, and Thomas is no exception. While usually being labeled as a bust, Thomas has a fighting shot in Dunlap’s team-first mindset, where every player has a chance to make a name for themselves and become a leader for a very young team.
Thomas has had his share of disappearing acts in his time with the Bobcats. It looks as if he’s back again. And hopefully, he’s here to stay this time.