Scouting Outlook: Rashawn Thomas
Rashawn Thomas is the first Partizan Belgrade addition who collected much buzz this summer. Former student of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi University (Southland Conference) had breakout season in Dinamo Sassari winning the FIBA Europe Cup and becoming vice-champion of Italy.
Rashawn recorded 14.1 ppg (52-29-66) and 7.2 rpg in little more than 28 minutes on the floor averagely. He was the focal point of Sassari interior game, but with solid help of American fellow big man Jack Cooley.
Rashawn Thomas is 203 cm 113 kg power forward with strong and energetic body and nice wingspan. This type of built helps him in being constant rim protection (active blocker) and rebounding force. He is player with a lot of energy and always competitive both in offense and defense.
Huge quality of Rashawn Thomas is his versatility on the offensive end. He is serious danger playing face up, low post, shooting or cutting, while always being very active on offensive rebounds and strong runner in transition. Limits of his offensive game are consisted of basic ball handling at best, unpolished finishing and below average passing in situations where he is pressured to find his teammates (making too much turnovers).
Rashawn has basic ability to put ball on the floor, he is decisive penetrator and real danger for slower centers and power forwards attacking the basket, while he is streaky shooter and his shot selection needs some improvements.
Big plus in his game is his willingness to work hard on low post with elite ability to pin down and wait for right pass. His back to basket game is more than solid, has few strong moves in his repertoire, but finishing around the rim is area of game which has to be improved in Thomas case to become Euroleague/NBA option in his career. Not only Rashawn is not polished finisher, but he is also bullying from time to time which makes his game on low post less desirable than usual.
Rashawn has various shots from the low post – he uses board or simple hook shots, but his biggest quality is ability to find open teammates or cutters with very precise and timely made passes. That brings little forgotten vertical aspect to team game, which makes whole team look better and very hard to defend. Also, Thomas is much better attacking at low post from left side, than right, which is another area of his game looking to be improved as soon as possible.
Another important pros in Rashawn Thomas game is his pick and roll ability. He can pop, roll and slip which makes him very hard opponent to cover from this offensive set. His shooting is streaky at best, has release with too much rotation, but he is still trying hard to pop out and shoot threes which stretches defense to the maximum extent. Sometimes, he hesitates too much in pop game, but that comes mostly out of his lack of confidence in his range and shooting ability.
In roll situations he is fast and good roller to the basket but his finish around the rim is another problem here. He loses balance quite easily and that causes many of his misses. Furthermore, Rashawn is bad finisher in traffic, but with tendency to grow and improve in this segment.
Another huge advantage of having player of Rashawn Thomas profile in the team is his hard working on offensive rebounds and cutting. He is very active on boards, has good positioning for rebound, but he is sometimes too indecisive what to do with ball when grabs it and complicates far too much at times. On the other side, Thomas is very energetic cutter with good reading and always looking for pass and space to finish the lay up.
In transition Rashawn is dangerous both as runner and as handler. His handling is, of course, at below average level but he knows how to choose right running lanes and when to seeks for contact and free throws. Additionally, from the mentioned above, he is very good as runner and always up front waiting to execute good transition of his teammates.
Rashawn Thomas is physically gifted player with ability to play serious defense in numerous roles – as strong power forward, undersized center or just as hustle big man. His qualities in defense are mostly built around his aggressiveness in contact, good pick and roll defense, solid reading and good rotations.
Rashawn has tendency to help a lot (so called “overhelping) but he is always back on his guy on time with hands up contesting a shot. Good understanding of the game and energy helps him a lot in these situations. What is notable is that there is two types of big guys with whom Thomas struggles: fast face up power forwards and old school centers.
Defense on low post for Thomas is better than average. He is always under the jersey of the opponent, looking for contact and provoking potential offensive foul. He has bit of nervy defense which should be avoided due potential foul trouble he is often in, but most of low post moves he closes with good and steady positioning and his long arms.
Pick and Roll defense is area in which Rashawn Thomas flourishes. He is capable of different types of pick and roll defense, while being very active in any of the potential solutions.
Thomas propels nice, has solid lateral and good vertical speed, and he is always ready to disturb opposition guard and come back on his man on time to defended him well. Good reading of situations helps him a lot. The only area with visible deficiency in his pick and roll game is his reaction to strong screens, which should be improved at higher level like ABA league or EuroCup.
Finally, Thomas is one of rare big guys capable of defending ISO situations. He is agile, concentrated and with hands in the air, but can be below averagely composed at times making unnecessary fouls or mistakes.
Rashawn Thomas can turn out as one of the best additions of Partizan Belgrade past few seasons. He has tools and ability to compete at highest level possible (Euroleague or NBA), but he needs additional polishing and improvements in very important aspects of the modern basketball such as reliable finishing around the rim, better ball handling and improved shooting behind the arc.