Not very many actually saw Etan Thomas being a real impact player when Sam Presti traded for him this summer. He was just going to be trade bait at the deadline with that expiring deal. But one reader has liked what he’s seen from Thomas so much, that he feels like he’s earned a spot in the first five.
By Casey Womack
Special to Daily Thunder
After wanting to punch the wall after the game last night, I started to do some thinking. The Thunder just came three points from beating the world champions. They played the best defense I’ve seen them play since they’ve been here. They out rebounded the Lakers on the offensive side. They blocked shots when they needed them. They even drew fouls down in the paint.
And it was all thanks to a man that uses a wrist band to tie his hair.
After thinking of everything, I thought to myself, why not start Etan Thomas? He brings a mean, physical attribute that Nenad Krstic doesn’t have in his bag. Thomas throws elbows every single time he comes down (even if there’s not a single person within 10 feet) from a rebound then gets in your face and lets you know about it. He gets the tough rebounds and outworks his opponents for a bucket. He’ll get in the other team’s head right from tip-off and will do everything in his power to make he sure he stays there.
Although, I know Nenad Krstic’s jumper really helps out the offense when he’s on. But that’s the problem. When he’s not, he’s just kind of an extra body that’s running up and down the court. He doesn’t have close to the same defensive talent Thomas has. Do you really think the Lakers would have had a 9-0 lead two minutes into the game with Thomas in? Krstic hit nothing but air on half of his shots in the first half. He didn’t make his first jumper until the start of the second half then got hot.
My idea is this: Have the same starting lineup, with Thomas in instead of Krstic and establish a defensive presence early on in the game. I would bring in Krstic in the middle of the first quarter and let him throw up a few jumpers. If he’s hot, leave him in. If not, live to fight another day. He’ll have his nights when he wins us games. But he’ll also have his nights when he cannot hit a thing and really ruin the team’s chances.
Thomas’s best year statistically was 2003-04 with Washington, when he averaged 24 minutes, nine ppg, seven rebounds, and one block for the season. He had 12 double-doubles that year. The past two games, he’s averaging 25.5 minutes, 10 rebounds, 6.5 ppg, and 2.5 blocks off the bench replacing Krstic. Krstic’s best year was in 2006-07 with the Nets. He averaged 32 minutes, 16 ppg, 6.8 rebounds, and 0.9 blocks for the season. This year, he’s averaging only 23 minutes, 10 ppg, 4 rebounds, and 0.5 blocks.
Krstic had his best game this season against the worst team in the league. There was little pressure in the paint, and he had extremely easy buckets. Thomas clearly had his best game last night against arguably the best team in the league. Even with pressure, he stayed aggressive and helped make sure the Lakers earned everything they did. Nobody is saying Krstic shouldn’t play, it’s just with this new, defensive minded group out there, maybe Thomas suits the team better.