BY: KYLE ADAMS
Malcolm Thomas, whom the Rockets signed to a 10-day contract on Tuesday, is only 23-years-old, but has already had a wild college and professional basketball career.
Coming from Columbia, Missouri, he is a 6-foot-9, 225-pound small forward/power forward, similar to the make-up of current Rockets rookie Marcus Morris. He is more suited for the power forward spot, in my opinion. He has great athletic ability and shot-blocking skills, to go with a pretty good post game. His father, Malcolm Thomas Sr., was also a former college and NBA player, an honorable mention All-American basketball player at Missouri, and sixth-round draftee of the 1985 NBA draft by the Los Angeles Clippers.
The college days
After averaging 12 points and nine rebounds in his freshman year at Pepperdine University, the younger Malcolm transferred to San Diego City College, where he put up 21 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocks a game his sophomore year, being named the California Community College Athletic Association co-MVP and Pacific Coast Conference Player of the Year. Thomas declared for the 2009 NBA Draft early, but withdrew after one workout to finish is collegiate career at San Diego State, earning All-Mountain West Conference second team honors in his junior year before helping lead the Aztecs to the Sweet 16 his senior campaign.
For his time at San Diego State, he ranks on its all-time list second in blocks, eighth in rebound average, eighth in field goal percentage and 13th in total rebounds.
As a pro
Thomas went undrafted in the 2011 NBA Draft. During the lockout, he played in the Korean Basketball League, averaging 21 points, 11 rebounds, 3 blocks and 3 assists before being released in November. He was signed by the Lakers on Dec. 13, and then assigned to their D-League team, the D-Fenders, on Dec. 17. He was called up by the San Antonio Spurs in January, reunited with former Aztecs and rookie peer Kawhi Leonard. He only played in three games for the Spurs, where he didn’t have much of an impact, and was assigned to the Austin Toros on Jan. 30. On Feb. 7, the Spurs waived Thomas and he joined the D-Fenders again two days later. In his D-League career for the D-Fenders (19 games) and the Toros (4 games), he has averaged 13 points, 2 blocks, 9 rebounds and 1 assist in 31 minutes. He also has a field goal percentage of 63 percent.
The future is bright
Thomas’ potential is limitless. He owns a lot of length and athleticism and runs the floor well, using his energy and skill to rebound and block shots. His shooting and overall offense needs work, but he can create a lot of havoc with his want-to. He does need to beef up so he can bang with the likes of Al Jefferson and Kevin Love, but he adds a unique dynamic to an already stacked position for the Rockets. Plus he is another young, promising talent that fits into coach Kevin McHale’s system as a big body who can protect the rim and attack the paint. His skill set and Patrick Patterson’s for example, complement each other, and with Luis Scola’s future far from certain in the red and silver, the Rockets get a start on developing someone who could be a long-term piece.
If Thomas plays up to his potential, this could be another possible steal for the Rockets.