Deshaun Thomas had a decision to make, but it wasn’t much of one.
The time is right for Thomas to leave Ohio State and try the NBA. Thomas knew that. Presumably, those he talked to while finalizing his decision agreed.
Thomas never met a shot he didn’t like, and it’s time he gets paid to shoot them.
The 6-foot-7 Thomas has an NBA body and an NBA mentality. Coming to Ohio State as highly touted recruit and the third leading scorer in Indiana high school basketball history, he probably never saw himself staying in Columbus this long. He needed the three years to mature on and off the court, and with this year’s NBA Draft appearing to lack star power he needed to throw his name in.
Thomas is much more ready than he was a year ago, when he considered turning pro after having a big NCAA tournament. It’s hard to imagine he could have been much more ready a year from now had he stayed for his senior season. Both history and logic say that when the door is open, prospects should show themselves through it.
He has a 1-year-old son, and even if he’s not drafted in the first round it’s hard to imagine Thomas not collecting NBA paychecks for the next several years and providing the kind of stability for his young family that he never had growing up in Fort Wayne, Ind.
Thomas led the Big Ten in scoring last season at 19.8 points per game, and for too much of the season he was the Buckeyes’ only consistent scoring option. That changed late in the year as LaQuinton Ross emerged and the Buckeyes excelled with a small-ball lineup. It’s not that Thad Matta wants to see Thomas go, but the 2013-14 Buckeyes figure to be both just fine and have a high pretty high ceiling without him. Thomas can go about his basketball business on the game’s highest level — where it’s very much a business.
How NBA scouts see Thomas — and how he’ll eventually fit with the team that drafts him — remains to be seen. Those arguments are for a different day, too.
The timing, the situation and the timing of situation pointed to this being the right time for Thomas to leave. He has improving to do, and he can do it in an NBA structure. A team looking for a pure scorer can bank on Thomas to provide that and make strides, over time, in other areas. He’s a gifted rebounder, too, and won’t be overwhelmed by the physicality of the NBA.
His three years of high-level college basketball in three different roles gave the eyes of the NBA a chance to see both his strengths and his weaknesses. There will be much less guesswork with Thomas, regardless of how he’s viewed, than there will be with the majority of the prospects in this year’s draft.
That can work both ways. Too many times, coming back to school works in a negative way for players in the spot Thomas is in.
Ready or not, too many guys convince themselves that an early NBA entry is the right path. What Thomas showed in his final 40 or so games at Ohio State is that he is ready, and even if his entry and his actual draft slot are later than he once envisioned, the time is right for him to give the NBA a try.