Name: Xavier Thames Age: 23 School: San Diego State
Height: 6’3 ½ Weight: 187 Projected Position: PG
17.6 ppg, 3.2 apg, 1.6 spg, 1.4 tpg, 2.3:1 A/TO (31.3 minutes per game)
41.1 FG%, 83.4 FT%, 37.4 3FG%, 55.7 TS%, 47.8 eFG%
28.6 USG%, 3.3 STL%, 23.7 AST%, 8.2 TOV%
SKILLS & ATHLETIC BREAKDOWN
Thames is an improving perimeter shooter, especially off the catch when he time to get set. He has good form on his jumper, though his release could be quicker. Thames does a good job getting square to the basket quickly off the catch, and his ability to penetrate often makes defenders give him enough space to get his shot off. Thames uses screens well to set up his jumper, but he needs to work on using his dribble more effectively to clear space for his jumper. Thames moves well without the ball, using screens and cuts to get open, though he needs to watch coming too wide around screens and allowing defenders space to stay with him. His shot selection can be questionable, though that may have more to do with his school’s offense than his choices.
Thames doesn’t look to drive to the basket as much as he could, but he has shown he can be effective when he does, especially when drawing contact and getting to the free throw line. He has an underrated first step, especially going to his left, and he uses his body well to shield the ball from defenders. Thames doesn’t shy away from contact when he is in the lane, though he needs to work on hitting the short jumper or floater when the help arrives quickly. Thames can be a creative finisher around the basket, and he has nice touch around the basket, but he can take some wild shots. He does a good job keeping his head up and seeing the defense when he gets into the lane, and while he is good at finding open teammates off penetration, his passes can be a bit off the mark. He has an improving mid-range jumper, and he has shown he can hit it off the dribble going to his left or right. Thames does a good job attacking the basket off of screens, though he needs to work on coming off them tighter.
Thames is an above-average ballhandler with both hands, capable of going left or right with the same ability. He has good control, keeps the ball low and close to his body (most of the time), and makes strong moves to the basket without forcing it through the defense. Thames doesn’t use many advanced dribbles, though he will on occasion show a strong hesitation dribble, as well as an improving crossover. Thames needs to continue to improve using his dribble more effectively to make space for his jumper. Thames sees the floor well, and he is patient enough to allow plays to develop. He can find teammates when he draws help defenders off of penetration, though his passes could be more on target. San Diego State ran a very structured offense which didn’t allow Thames much time to create for himself or others off the dribble, unless they were getting low on the shot clock. Thames has the skill, but he needs to show that he can consistently create, especially in pick-and-roll situations.
Free Throw Shooting
Thames is a good free throw shooter with a consistent routine, fluid shooting motion and good follow-through. Thames got to the free throw line at a good rate for being in an offense that didn’t feature a lot of creating off the dribble (over 1 free throw for every 2 field goal attempts). When he looks to get to the basket, he doesn’t shy away from contact and will actually look to initiate it on his own.
Perimeter Defense (On/Off Ball)
Thames is a very good on-ball defender, positioning himself well between his man and the basket, and having strong lateral movement, even over longer distances. Thames will look to force his man to his weak side, and he anticipates and reacts well to his man’s movements. He does a good job of not falling for dribble or shot fakes, though he has to watch a tendency to swipe at the ball/man if he gets beat. He is an active defender, and he can also play physical defense. Thames won’t take many chances at the stealing the ball one-on-one, but he is very good off the ball and in trap situations. He is quite good at getting through screens, both on and off the ball, especially getting over the top when he needs to. His ability to get over screens and pressure the ball helps in pick-and-roll situations, allowing his teammates to focus on cutting off passing angles. Off the ball, Thames generally positions himself well, and he has a very good sense of spacing between his man and his help position. He can be a good help defender, and he moves well between his man and the post in trapping situations. His defensive awareness is good, and he was clearly the leader of his team’s defense this past season. He sees the floor well. Tracks the ball and his man, and will direct his teammates as needed. Thames plays passing lanes well and he does a good job anticipating and getting a break on passes that he can pick off.
Thames may not be very fast in the open floor, but he can be effective in transition when he looks to get the ball to the rim. His decision making has improved, but he may be even better with more talented transition players around him. Thames is able to knock down the mid-range jumper if given space off the dribble, but he hasn’t been very good shooting long-range shots off the dribble. When he’s in transition, he doesn’t have enough time to get his feet set, which is an area he needs to work on in general.
After spending time sharing backcourt minutes with Chase Tapley and Jamaal Franklin two seasons ago, Thames emerged as the clear leader of a San Diego State team which won 31 games and advanced to the Sweet 16 this past season. Thames improved all facets of his offensive game, while also handling responsibility for running the Aztecs’ offense. However, that offense left Thames little opportunity to show how he can create shots for himself or teammates. When he did have a chance to create off the dribble, he was very good at getting into the lane and drawing contact, though he often had problems finishing around the basket and putting up wild shots. It wasn’t always Thames’ fault as he carried a big scoring burden for the Aztecs and often had to try and make something happen when the offensive sets stalled. Thames continues to improve his shooting, both from the mid-range and long-range areas, though he needs to work on hitting shots consistently off the dribble. He was the leaders of the Aztecs’ defense, one of the best in the country and he had the ability to defend either guard position well. I have little doubt he could defend NBA-level point guards with little adjustment. Thames has a strong understanding of the game and showed very good leadership skills this past season.
Draft Value Mid-Late 2nd – #48-56
Thames is one of many strong senior point guards in this class who could eventually transition to NBA back-ups. His offensive game needs some work still, especially continuing to hone his perimeter shooting and playmaking abilities, but he is a very good defender and a solid leader. Easy to see him impressing a team enough to take a shot on him in the 2nd round.