For this year’s SB Nation Blogger Mock Draft, I handed the general manager reigns to Charlie Stanton — he has been paying far closer attention to college basketball this season and has done a great job with his “Golden Choice” series throughout the season. While there were plenty of trades made — and offers flying around — throughout the draft, Charlie stood pat and ultimately chose Creighton’s Khyri Thomas for the Golden State Warriors (click here for Charlie’s full breakdown of Thomas). The following is our account of that selection...er...Golden Choice...which I really only provided meaningless input on based on watching a few minutes of draft profiles from around the web. -NP
Our choice for the Golden State Warriors in the SB Nation NBA Blogger Mock Draft ultimately came down to Melvin Frazier and Khyri Thomas.
Of the players currently in the top five on our board, Josh Okogie was selected by the Chicago Bulls with the 22nd pick, Keita Bates-Diop was selected 23rd, and Grayson Allen was selected 24th. That left a difficult decision between Melvin Frazier and Khyri Thomas: do you take the smaller player with a better all-around game (Thomas) or pick the taller wing with a less-developed game (Frazier and Okogie)?
Thomas very much fits the mold of a Warriors player. He’s fast, thrives on the fast-break and turns defense into offense. If he’s still around at pick 28, he’ll be tough to pass up. From watching him play, it’s easy to see that Thomas is a natural baller on both ends of the floor. He attacks the rim with athleticism and control and also showcases a smooth jumper. Despite his height, Thomas is quite strong and has a surprising 6-foot-10 wingspan. He likes to play on the run, and plays larger than his size.
Based on the #NBA combine over the years here are some physical comparisons for 22-year-old junior Khyri Thomas, an 3+D type prospect out of #Creighton who has a +6.75" wingspan— DraftExpressContent (@DXContent) June 18, 2018
He is on the fringe of the first round heading into the 2018 #NBADraft >> https://t.co/BuWg3DyMwK pic.twitter.com/OBuyqGupRb
Nevertheless, Dean Demakis of Dean On Draft — a draft analyst who was pretty accurate in his analysis Patrick McCaw before it was cool — identified some serious holes in Thomas’ statistical profile after critiquing comparisons to Avery Bradley.
In spite of being 6’3″, he is a non-athlete non-creator. He mustered a modest 21% usage as an old junior with an inordinate 38% of his points coming in transition– a means of production which is not predictive of NBA success.
He could not run the pick and roll to save his life, posting just 0.6 PPP for 23rd percentile as per synergy as a junior. And this was actually an improvement over his 0.57 PPP as a sophomore. He turns 22 before the draft, and it’s hard to imagine that a 6’3″ player who is this inept at the pick and roll at his age providing NBA value.
And it’s not even like he’s a great shooter. He made 40.6% of his NCAA 3P, but that was with a somewhat low rate of attempts and 72% career FT. He will not make any special impact as an NBA shooter, and there is no guarantee that he is even above average.
While the point about Thomas being a non-athlete is debatable, the other concerns are certainly valid. Yet both his weaknesses and fit for the Warriors was probably summarized best in Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz’s breakdown of first round prospects for ESPN: “Lack of size isn’t ideal at 6-21⁄2 barefoot coupled with his lack of ball skills. Will need to be surrounded with creators at the 1 and 3.”
Playing with a lineup full of shooters in spurts could have a way of masking all Thomas’ weaknesses and accentuating his defensive abilities — that’s exactly what we’re hoping for here in looking at Thomas’ fit with the Warriors.
Sooner or later, Creighton's Khyri Thomas is going to get the notoriety he deserves. Arguably the best two-way perimeter player in the draft; explosive; 6-10 wingspan; high percentage 3-pt shooter. Just a really, really good prospect & flat-out steal if he goes late in the 1st— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) June 12, 2018
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Moritz Wagner #GoBlue