Over the past month, Cam Thomas has been the Nets’ leading scorer — and one of the best in the NBA. But that doesn’t appear to be earning him a starting role in Brooklyn.
Thomas has come off the bench in all but three appearances all season, and Jacque Vaughn hasn’t given any signs of that changing.
“I haven’t had any discussions,” Thomas said. “I’m just going as the game goes and will take it game by game. Whatever I’m needed for in that game, that’s what I’ll give. You have to look at who’s playing and what kind of role you’ll be in. I just take it game by game.”
The Nets close out February on Tuesday versus Milwaukee. So far this month, Thomas is averaging 25.7 points — tops on the team, and 18th in the league. The second-year guard has put up shooting splits of .473/.434/.905 over than span.
At 21, he’s by far the youngest player in the top 20 this month, with the next-closest being 23-year-old stars Luka Doncic and Ja Morant.
“When I look at it, there’s a difference between starting and playing against other starters, and who you have to guard on the other end as a starter. I think about that piece of it,” Vaughn said. “Dorian Finney-Smith is one of our best defenders we have … so it’s pretty tough to take him out of the lineup when there’s other offensive guys that he’s covering up the sins up.
“Nic Claxton, it’s pretty tough to take him out of the lineup. I don’t want to go player-by-player … but the balance of having a unit out on the floor that can cover for each other and have a mix of offense and defense, that’s the goal. I look at the entirety of the group and how the groups going together.”
Thomas has proven capable of scoring against anybody, pouring in 134 points in a three-game span. But to Vaughn’s point, Thomas was somehow just plus-5 in that eruption, and is a minus-35 this month.
Still, after the Nets traded away both Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, Thomas is arguably their most capable player at both getting his own shot and creating for others.
“For sure, yeah, I’ve [done that] on any team I’ve been on in my life, especially now. We need guys like that — those guys who can help create offense for the team and playmaking for them or playmaking for myself. I feel like I bring this,” Thomas said. “Whether I’m in there with second unit, first unit whatever unit it is, I just try to bring that as much as possible so we have a chance to be successful.”
The Nets have a clean injury report for Tuesday except for Ben Simmons, out with his sore left knee.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is probable with a right quad contusion. Wesley Matthews is out with a strained right calf.