Drafted by: Toronto Raptors, No. 59 overall
Traded to: Brooklyn Nets for cash
School: San Diego State
Height/Weight: 6'3", 187 lbs
Age: 23 years old
Projected NBA Position: Shooting guard
Pro Comparison: Jannero Pargo
Twitter Handle: @
Everything clicked for Xavier Thames during his senior season with the San Diego State Aztecs, which suddenly made him a far more intriguing NBA prospect than he was after averaging just 9.5 points per game during the 2012-13 campaign.
Not only did he nearly double his scoring output, but he also made strides on the defensive end of the court while asserting himself as one of the very best players in college basketball.
Thames was rewarded for his efforts when he was selected as the Mountain West Player of the Year, and he was simultaneously the clear-cut leader of the Aztecs. Not only did he lead San Diego State in points, assists and steals, but he also established himself as the team's premier marksman long before averaging 26 points per game during the NCAA tournament.
Talk about a meteoric rise.
But will the ascent continue in the Association, or will Thames' basketball career see him struggle to keep advancing up the ranks?
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What position is Thames actually going to play in the NBA?
The primary option is shooting guard, but the offensive stalwart—a description that worked this past year, but might not going forward—is going to be giving up a lot of height to opposing 2s. He'll have difficulty guarding the bigger ones, and without much quickness, it'll be awfully tough for him to get off shots that aren't heavily contested.
Physically, he's better suited for point guard, but his quickness is a hinderance there. Additionally, he's not a stellar enough facilitator to make things happen for his teammates, which means he'd be used primarily in speciality lineups.
Sometimes, being a positional tweener is a good thing. This is not one of those times.
Thames also needs to work on his finishing abilities around the basket, as he can't keep relying on awkward floaters while counting on whistles to give him a chance to finish the play at the charity stripe. It's worked for him thus far, but NBA defenders are bigger and quicker, allowing them to contest looks even more heavily while getting in proper guarding position before he can draw contact and get to the line.
Whether Thames is drafted in the second round or signs a contract as an undrafted free agent, he'll be spending the vast majority—maybe even the entirety—of his rookie season playing in the D-League. Until he has a more defined position, honing his skills to fit that role, he's not going to earn much playing time at the top level.
Well, none at all, really.
Thames might have an NBA-ready jumper from mid-range zones, but even his three-point stroke needs adjustment. That line-drive nature doesn't bode well for his ability to serve as a sharpshooter right away, hence an even bigger need for developmental work.
This is entirely dependent on his ability to continue developing his point guard skills.
If Thames wants to have a lengthy career in the NBA, he can't afford to keep trying to play shooting guard as his primary position. He simply doesn't have the size or physical tools to thrive at the bigger spot in the lineup, and that's never going to change.
What could change, though, is his ability to function as a quality distributor, doing more than taking careful control of the rock. If he can couple his knack for shooting with a penchant for racking up assists, he'll be a much more valuable player, one who can come off the bench as a primary backup for years.
Ultimately, Thames' best-case scenario involves functioning as a sixth man for a long time. He'll never be much more than that, seeing as there are physical limitations that can't be overcome.
At least not by a 23-year-old prospect who has already started coming close to his ceiling.