The Detroit Pistons traded for No. 38 overall pick Khyri Thomas during the 2018 NBA draft Thursday. The selection originally belonged to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Already on scouts' watch lists entering the season, Thomas capitalized with more shooting and better defense, but he also scored his 15.1 points per game on an outstanding 53.8 success rate from the field. Offensive efficiency and a second Big East Defensive Player of the Year award made Creighton's Thomas one of the bigger risers of the 2017-18 season.
Weight: 198.8 lbs
Pro-player comparison: Gary Harris
Thomas shot 41.1 percent from three as a junior, marking the third consecutive season he finished above 39.0 percent. Inside the arc, he shot a sensational 63.9 percent, taking the good shots defenses gave him. He ranked in the 96th percentile in points per possession in transition. In the half court, he ranked in the 89th percentile out of spot-ups, doing most of his damage when catching and shooting. He ranked in the 91st percentile in dribble handoffs, which is another reflection of his ability to capitalize within the flow of his team's offense.
For a guard, Thomas isn't creative, either for himself or teammates. He's under 6'4" yet shows no point guard instincts, ranking in the 23rd percentile as a pick-and-roll ball-handler. He converted six field goals out of isolation all season, and he only averaged 2.8 assists per game. Despite his three-point numbers, he wasn't as effective while pulling up, having made just 31.8 percent of his shots off the dribble.
He's in the conversation for the draft's top perimeter defender and taps into his quickness, length and competitiveness to smother opposing guards. He matched up against ball-handlers, wings and forwards in college, and he averaged at least 1.5 steals per game in back-to-back seasons. Thomas is vocal defensively and appears to embrace his reputation as a two-way player.
Thomas' role will be simplified, given his weaknesses as a creator. Coaches will want him to focus on spot-up shooting, getting out on the break and defending. And given his athleticism, tools, discipline and track record as a shooter, there is no reason he can't play immediate minutes in a supporting role. He won't put up big numbers, but Thomas should be capable of handling backup 2-guard duties by playing to his strengths.
Projected role: Three-and-D role player
Thomas would need to transform into a different player to become a scorer, and therefore, his game doesn't scream upside. But he will have the chance to become a star in a specific role, the way Harris has. Three-and-D players are highly valued, and Thomas could be one of the most effective.