Projecting NBA Draft Prospects: Khyri Thomas

Height: 6-4

Weight: 200 lbs.

Wingspan: 6-10.5

Birthday/Age: 5/8/96 (22 years old)

Projected NBA Role: Combo Guard

Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska

School: Creighton University

Strengths: Length, Effort, IQ, Vision, Defense

Weaknesses: Explosiveness, Shooting Off Dribble, Improvisation, Age

Upper Bound: Patrick Beverley, Aaron Mckie, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley

Lower Bound: Wade Baldwin, Delon Wright

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Thoughts and Comparisons

At 6-4 Khyri isn’t going to tower over anyone in the NBA. The 6-10.5 wingspan and muscular frame is what unlocks his potential value in the league: a truly flexible 3-and-D combo guard. Thomas has above average court vision and is unselfish moving the ball. The intangibles he brings to the game are elite within the context of this draft class. The hustle and dedication he has to every play and his consistency functioning within his role on the team will endear him to the coaching staff immediately. At Creighton he exhibited many skills required in the NBA, as they ran a fast-paced offense predicated on spacing. The adjustment to most NBA offenses should be seamless due to his comfort level in both the pick-and-roll and a ball movement offense. Although his jump shot isn’t the prettiest (in my humble opinion), the stroke is reasonably quick, replicable and works off the dribble as well as coming off screens. Would love to see him spend the summer really perfecting his scoring off the dribble. The comparison to Patrick Beverley is obvious defensively, which is why it would be great to see him become comfortable carrying a bigger offensive load. As an individual defender, Khyri shows some flashes as an elite ball stopper. His perimeter defense is stellar and he will be able to relocate/switch on and off the ball.

Thomas plays below the rim. His strength and length help him overcome his lack of explosiveness. At 22 scouts will question how much development is left for Khyri. He lacks creativity with his ball-handling and makes the simple plays without showing ability to improvise. This results in picking up the dribble early instead of extending the play enough to create an opening in the defense. His length should work against most guards, until he faces a tall shot maker where his only option will be to really get under the shooter’s space: which is being monitored closely by NBA refs today. His low steal rate shouldn’t be a concern as the general theme with his defensive style is to stay within the concept and not overplay: think Klay on defense. Khyri projects as a high floor, low ceiling prospect due to his well-rounded game. The lack of vertical ability will keep him from becoming an elite scorer and may result in teams showing resistance to select him in the lottery.

Ideal Landing Spots

Ideally, Thomas drops to a team looking for a player ready to contribute immediately as an effective bench player. In 15-20 minutes off the bench Thomas can immediately become an above-replacement player running the second string offense and effectively defending the perimeter.  The Timberwolves should give him strong consideration at 20. Coach Thibs would love having him with Tyus Jones as the second unit guards. The idea of letting Thomas develop into the preferred guard to pair with Butler in the backcourt as they phase Teague out isn’t as silly as it may sound right now. I’m skeptical Teague and/or Wiggins stay in Minnesota past this season and the idea of adding a versatile high IQ guard to help out Butler and Towns defensively as they will continue to carry the lion share of the offense makes a lot of sense. If he continues to slide in the draft I would be pleasantly surprised seeing him on the Warriors at 28. They face a luxury tax salary crunch and need a player just like Khyri to fill out their rotation if anyone of Livingston, Iguodala, McCaw, Young, or Cook don’t return next season.