BROOKLYN — It’s Cam Thomas’ world and everyone else is just living in it. That’s the way it has seemed the last three games for the Nets’ guard after he recorded his third straight 40-plus game and made a bit of NBA and franchise history.
The only thing that spoiled the night for Thomas was the fact that the Nets dropped their second straight game in a 116-112 loss to the Phoenix Suns. His 43-point effort wasn’t enough to will the Nets to a win, even as he put up 13 points in the closing 1:30 of the game to give Brooklyn hope for a last-second comeback.
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Still, Thomas has been playing at a level that wasn’t expected from the 21-year-old guard. Tuesday’s effort saw him become the youngest player in NBA history to score 40-plus points in three consecutive games and the first in NBA franchise history to do so.
“That’s really surreal. You know, I’m just glad to have my name in history books being this young,” Thomas said. “Obviously, I rather have the win ’cause it sounds better when you have these 40-point games with the two wins than we lost. But it’s just good to have my name in history, you know? I’m still gonna embrace it. You know, me being young, you still want to embrace your accolades. And just be proud of yourself. Just be proud of what hard work you put in, so that’s really the main thing.”
Thomas’ breakout stretch since Kyrie Irving requested a trade from the Nets and subsequently was traded Sunday has been eye-opening for the Nets. He has done his best impression of Irving since, becoming the linchpin of the offense while seeing his minutes substantially increase.
He was on the floor for nearly 40 minutes on Tuesday after playing 38:35 the night before and scoring a career-best 47 points. And Thomas was near perfect from the free throw line going 18-for-20.
That has fairly raised the question of where Thomas fits in the rotation going forward.
“It’s a great question. I think he has definitely opened a lot of eyes,” Nets coach Jacque Vaughn said. “What the rotations look like going forward, we’ll see when we get everyone. But he is a guy, like I said, from the beginning, we have not waned in our belief in what Cam can do in helping us win. When we get our full roster together, we’ll put the pieces together and see where he fits in that in that rotation.”
Thomas’ stretch has been made all that more impressive by the fact that it wasn’t too long ago he was limited in his playing time and stuck on the bench. In his first 34 games of the year, Thomas averaged 14.1 minutes and just 7.4 points along with 17 DNPs.
The 21-year-old said that despite being in and out of the rotation his work ethic never changed and he was able to battle through the adversity.
“It’s real hard because just being a competitor, you want to be in the game. You want to play,” Thomas said. “So when in my case, you know, when the coaches keep telling you, ‘stay ready,’ you’re like, okay. But then you get frustrated after a while because you like I’m staying ready. I’m ready. I’m ready to hoop, but then you just got to do your part. Do your role and when your number’s called, be ready. I feel that’s what I’ve been doing, just staying ready for the moment honestly.”
While Thomas’ recent success may have caught some off guard, there’s one person who had an insight to the potential that Thomas had.
Prior to Tuesday’s loss, newly acquired Net Dorian Finney-Smith recalled Thomas’ game back when they were kids.
“Man, he’s been hooping. He’s been hooping. I remember Cam when we was about 10, just seeing him work out, know all the work he done put in. He’s always been a bucket,” Finney-Smith said. “Just gotta get him to talk a little bit more. But he’s always been a bucket. So I’m excited to be out there with him.”
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