Malcolm Thomas is finding a niche with BC Khimki
Among its American players, the EuroLeague currently includes a lot of players who have stepped their foot at least one time on an NBA court. When it comes to these players, you first think about guys like NBA champions Norris Cole and Dorell Wright, veterans Jason Thompson and Brian Roberts, or the former No. 5 overall pick Thomas Robinson.
Nevertheless, some players who have less NBA experience than the guys mentioned above deserve to get some looks. One of these sleepers is Malcolm Thomas.
A 30-year-old big man who played alongside NBA star Kawhi Leonard at San Diego State, Malcolm Thomas has a really intriguing story that includes stints on three different continents. He went undrafted in 2011 and started his professional career in South Korea. Later in that same season, after parting ways with Ulsan Mobis Phoebus and then playing six games in the G League (then called D-League), Thomas had the chance to make his NBA debut with the San Antonio Spurs. The next season, Thomas landed in Europe for the first time as he signed with EuroLeague club Maccabi Tel Aviv. He returned to the States after four months and got a total of three 10-day contracts with Golden State and Chicago. He kept shuttling between the NBA and the D-League during the 2013-14 season, but the next year he was able to play with a little more consistency with the Philadelphia 76ers. In a total of 40 NBA games over four years, Thomas averaged 1.9 points and 2.4 rebounds on 44% shooting in 8.2 minutes. He spent last season in China with the Jilin Northeast Tigers, where he averaged 20 points and 16 rebounds per game.
In his latest chapter of his journey, Thomas signed a 2-year contract with EuroLeague club Khimki Moscow during the last offseason and now is spending his second experience in the most competitive league outside the NBA.
As we are halfway through the season, we can notice that the Columbia, Missouri native has emerged as a pretty intriguing find for Khimki’s head coach Georgios Bartzokas while the team is seriously fighting for a playoff spot just one year since the Russian club’s return to the EuroLeague.
Thomas is currently averaging 7.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and an 11.1 PIR in 22 minutes per game. These stats translate into 13.2 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists per 40 minutes. He was also named the MVP of the Week 16 as he finished with 16 points, seven rebounds, three assists, four steals and two blocks in a win over Brose Bamberg.
While in the NBA he was primarily a power forward, coach Bartzokas is using Thomas as a small five, which suit pretty well a dynamic style of play. Standing at 6-foot-9 and weighing 225 lbs, he struggles when matched up against much bigger centers, but his exceptional length (7-foot-2 wingspan) and athleticism can make up for the lack of size.
Offensively, Thomas makes an excellent use of the pick and roll from the top of the key so he can create more space and make the most of his mobility and athleticism, as we can see in the video above.
He is a pretty good offensive weapon in transition as he can run the floor and finish at the rim off a teammate’s assist. Here’s a nice connection between Thomas and former NBA guard Alexey Shved.
As we already said, matching up against bigger centers in the paint is a pretty hard test for him, but he can come out well with his nice touch around the basket. He is shooting 56.8% from inside the arc. Also, he is showing some decent abilities at stretching the floor and knocking down threes. He is shooting 31.8% from the 3-point line.
What does he need offensively? Consistency. He has some very intriguing tools he can do good things with, but he needs to be more consistent so he can avoid 4-point or 5-point performances.
On the defensive end, like said before, his lack of size can make him struggle against bigger centers such as Real Madrid’s Walter Tavares or Milan’s Arturas Gudaitis, but his length and athleticism come into play on his side. He uses his long arms to protect the rim, attempt interceptions on the perimeter, and of course grab rebounds.
Thomas has shown some nice things as far as the defense on the perimeter when he switches on the pick and roll and matches up with a guard. He moves his feet pretty well and, again, his wingspan gives him a good hand.
With all that being said, we can say that Malcolm Thomas has turned out as a nice find for Khimki Moscow. Now, as the second half of the season approaches, he has the chance to keep showing what he can do on the court and be more consistent.