2018 NBA Draft: The best fits for Creighton’s Khyri Thomas

Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images
Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images /

Khyri Thomas may have an unlikelier path to being a useful NBA player than some, but falling in the right situation could unlock some extra potential.

For all prospects, fit is incredibly important. From the close-to-sure-things at the top of the draft who are still teenagers to the 23-year-old guys trying to make a roster, fit matters. For some players, their games will allow them to succeed in more environments and styles than others. Luka Doncic and Mikal Bridges come to mind. For others, they may need one particular setting to succeed most. That’s true for Creighton’s wing Khyri Thomas.

As a quick disclaimer, needing a certain style and set up to maximize your potential doesn’t make you a bad prospect. Versatility is the king of the NBA, but even guys with more of that can fall into the wrong situations and systems. Every player should hope they fall into the best situation for them, despite any flaws or shortcomings.

Thomas will likely be a first round pick and for good reason. He’s an aggressive, stout defender, who makes up for his 6’3″ height with 6’11” length and shooting touch. However, he’s a shooting guard trapped in a point guard’s body. Add to that that he’ll be 22 on draft night and that he doesn’t excel as a creator and you can see why some teams may not be so bullish on his game.

Creighton’s star wing isn’t for everyone. He shouldn’t really be considered for most rebuilding teams. That’s not because he can’t contribute, but he won’t be maximized. Thomas is best-suited to slide into a playoff team’s structure that will allow him to play to his strengths. Teams in the lottery typically don’t have that luxury.

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What Thomas needs is to play next to a bigger creator like Ben Simmons, Giannis Antetokounmpo or LeBron James. He can be the de-facto point guard on defense, even sometimes guarding shooting guards as well. Thomas can be the point of attack defender with help and be a slasher and spot-up guy on the other end.

That’s a great role for him, but in the description you see the problem. There aren’t too many teams that can accommodate that. The Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers and whatever team LeBron plays for next year can make that happen. The Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets can as well. That’s about where the list ends. Given their pedigrees, I wouldn’t expect Thomas to be upset on any of those franchises.

You could make a case for the Phoenix Suns and Indiana Pacers, but both Devin Booker and Victor Oladipo will need more help from another creator. That’s not Thomas’ strong suit. His best-case scenario is falling onto one of these teams and becoming a version of Avery Bradley. He has that type of potential in him, but it’s less likely he reaches it on other teams than those mentioned above.

Right now, ESPN has Thomas mocked to the Pacers — not the worst fit, but likely not a team that would get the most out of him. They probably would need to get more from him than he’s capable of on both ends. Another wrinkle that would really help him is joining an already great defensive team.

Next: Full two-round 2018 NBA Mock Draft

It’s a lot easier to defend the point of attack next to a tall creator if you have someone like Joel Embiid behind you. Look at the teams mentioned as best fits and only Philadelphia and Houston (Clint Capela) really check all the boxes. That’s how difficult it can be to fall in the perfect spot for a lot of players. That’s not to say Thomas can’t be successful in Indiana or other places, but that’s a huge margin for error playing with a Philadelphia or a Houston compared to others.