Khyri Thomas – Creighton
CPP Big Board Ranking: #14 Overall (#5 PG/#5 SG)
Weight: 199 lbs
Age/Birthday: 22 (5/8/96)
Hometown: Omaha, Nebraska
High School: Benson HS
(Brett Siegel – 6/11/18)
After emerging as one of Creighton’s best players during the 2016-17 season, Khyri Thomas was the second-leading scorer on Creighton’s roster this past season and was named to the All-Big East Second Team. Thomas enters this year’s NBA Draft, even though he could have returned to Creighton for his senior season, as one of the oldest players in the draft at 22 years old. Khyri Thomas is a very versatile guard, as he can play either guard spot on the court, and is very intriguing for his position because of his lengthy attributes. He only stands about 6’4” with shoes, but possess a 6’10.5” wingspan. Not only did he rank 7th overall in wingspan for guards at the NBA combine, but all the guard prospects ranked higher than him stood above 6’4”. As a result of his long arms, Khyri Thomas is an exceptional defender on the perimeter and can guard point guards, as well as both wing positions. The two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year averaged 1.7 steals per game this past season and ranked 3rd in the Big East in steals per game. Thomas is expected to be selected anywhere from 10-20 and will be a perfect fit for any team looking for a lengthy guard who has the ability to shoot, but can be utilized as a reliable defender on the perimeter.
Khyri Thomas’ greatest strength is his length in terms of his play-style. His 6’10.5” wingspan allows him to makeup for his lack of height (standing at 6’4” with shoes) and rise over opponents when shooting. As stated before, his long reach and agileness also has contributed to him being known as one of the nation’s best one-on-one defenders and perimeter defenders. Thomas is very aggressive and a strong guard that does not stray away from contact. Thomas rarely was knocked around by bigger player this past season and showed no hesitation going straight at his opponent’s forward or centers in the paint. Aside from his length and strength, Khyri Thomas is a pretty good shooter, as a guard in today’s NBA should be! Thomas shot about 54% from the field this past season and about 64% on shots inside 20-feet. His three-point shooting ability also makes him an intriguing guard prospect as a result of his career high 41.1% shooting percentage from outside last season and averaging 40.6% for his collegiate career from long distance. His progression as a shooter has been something to watch from an NBA scout’s perspective as Thomas was never seen as a pure-scorer early on in his collegiate career. Over the course of this past year, Thomas has become more of a pure-scorer and well-rounded offensive player.
Defensively, Khyri Thomas is one of the best defensive guards in this draft. As a result of his long wingspan, Thomas was known for disrupting passing lanes at Creighton and making his opponents pay for their mistakes by running in transition. His shot-contesting for a guard is well-above average as a result of his length and his rebounding numbers are above-average as well. Although he averaged just 4.6 RPG in his collegiate career, Thomas was always a factor on the offensive glass and a guy who made it tough for his opponents to rebound over. He has also shown success in being able to defend the pick-and-roll. At Creighton, Thomas was able to contest shots through pick-and-roll scenarios around the three-point line and was able to deny passes to the opposition’s big man following the screen. His ball denial skills truly are impressive and should help him as he becomes a defensive weapon for an NBA franchise.
My main concern for Khyri Thomas at the next level is his footwork and ability to defend faster, more crafty guards in the NBA. Thomas is not known for being a very quick guard and his numbers showed that at the NBA combine. Khyri Thomas ranked 27th out of 37 guards who participated in the shuttle-run and ranked tied for 23rd out of 37 guards who participated in the three-quarter court sprint at this year’s NBA combine. He also is not a very explosive guard. Thomas ranked tied for 24th out of guards in the standing vertical leap and tied for 27th in the max vertical leap. His lack of explosiveness and quickness may negate some of his offensive abilities he displayed in college at the next level. His offensive skill set and how it will transition to the NBA level is very unknown for Thomas and against bigger and stronger defenders, Thomas may have trouble getting non-contested shots off. At Creighton, Thomas was a solid ball handler and passer, having an assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.56:1 for his career, but always had another primary ball handler next to him. Marcus Foster controlled a lot of the point guard’s responsibilities over the course of the past few years for Creighton and made Khyri Thomas more of a shooter in their offense than a distributor. It is yet to be determined how Thomas will react when faced with this type of challenge as a combo-guard at the next level.
Defensively, Thomas may have trouble with keeping quicker and more agile guards in-front of him in the NBA, but a lot of collegiate guards face these questions coming into the draft. Against pure-shooters in the NBA, Thomas could see success, as he defended three-pointers well at Creighton, but against guards who tend to dribble around and create their own shots in isolation situations, Thomas could get caught on an island with his average footwork. Perhaps the biggest transition defensively for Khyri Thomas at the NBA level will be how well he avoids ball screens and his ability to play pick-and-roll scenarios with bigger and stronger NBA big men.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: A better shooting Dejounte Murray and Tony Allen
When I think of Khyri Thomas, I think of both Dejounte Murray and Tony Allen as comparisons. Although Khyri Thomas is a better shooter than both Murray and Allen, all three players have very similar defensive makeups. In his short time in the NBA, Dejounte Murray has turned himself into one of the best perimeter defending guards for the Spurs and has been a valuable asset to them. Tony Allen, for his career, has always been a respected defending-guard who has the ability to also stretch the floor and knock down shots at a decent percentage. Although it is very hard to compare defensive stats from college to NBA veterans, Khyri Thomas had a defensive rating of 100.9 with a defensive box plus/minus of 5.0, while Dejounte Murray had a defensive rating of 101.0 and a defensive box +/- of 3.4 last season, and while Tony Allen has a defensive rating of 101.7 for his career and a defensive box +/- of 2.1 for his career. Khyri Thomas should fit right into the defensive mold of a Dejounte Murray/Tony Allen type player as a guard who can defend, but also be a reliable shooter on a team’s second-unit at the start of his career. Khyri Thomas will be an interesting prospect to watch develop at the NBA level and should earn a lot of playing time in his rookie season, mainly with the second-unit, as a result of his defensive efficiency and tendencies.
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