NEW YORK — Nets rookie Cam Thomas thinks he’s a better scorer at 20 than his teammate Kevin Durant was at that age.
The debate — and for Thomas, there isn’t much of one ― is the source of friendly trash talk that has brought student and teacher closer together.
“Me and KD just be trash talking about our scoring abilities,” Thomas said after scoring a season-high 11 points in 12 minutes against the Cavaliers on Monday. “I say I think I’m a better scorer at my age than he was, and he doesn’t believe that.”
Thomas, riding a postgame high, went on to say Durant is ducking the smoke: “He never wants to play me 1-on-1,” he continued. “We play one-on-one at shootaround all the time. Post-ups (only): I beat him.”
That, of course, isn’t true. You can tell by the smirk Thomas hid beneath his deadpan. You can tell by Durant’s matter-of-fact answer that left no doubt as to the results of their post-practice duels.
Durant has led the NBA in scoring four times in his career and is on pace to lead the league again. After a devastating Achilles injury, Durant is averaging 28.5 points per game. If he can improve his free-throw shooting by five percent, he will be on pace to shoot 50% from the field, 40% from 3 and 90% from the foul line ― for the second time in his career.
Thomas has nothing on that.
“It was more than ridiculous,” Durant said of Thomas’ assertion that he beat him one-on-one. “Cam is lying”
But the fact that Thomas dared challenge Durant in the first place, and publicly at that, shows just what kind of player the Nets drafted in the first round of last year’s draft. Thomas is no Durant ― Durant is a one-of-one ― but there is no denying his gifts as a superior scorer: a scoring machine.
Thomas won Summer League Co-MVP after leading the Summer League in scoring, after leading all college freshmen in scoring at LSU. Putting the ball in the basket is what he does. He needed to improve around the edges, though, if he was going to break into a star-studded Nets rotation.