San Antonio Spurs: JT Thor may be darkhorse first-round pick
The San Antonio Spurs appear to be doing their due diligence before the NBA Draft next month, as more and more news is being released that the Spurs are holding workouts and interviews with draft participants. Most recently, news broke that the Spurs held a workout with Ethan Thompson out of Oregon State.
While most of the Spurs' workouts and interviews up to this point have almost certainly been to help determine who they'll select in the second round of the draft, they've also taken the time to interview a couple of definitive first-round picks in Kai Jones and Corey Kispert.
Knowing the Spurs, though, it's just as likely that they go in a completely different direction on draft night and select someone that nobody is thinking about or has heard of. With that in mind, I'd like to introduce you all to one such draft prospect whose name has been making its way to my radar more and more lately: JT Thor.
Only playing one year at Auburn, he averaged 9.4 points, 5 rebounds, 1.4 blocks, and just under one assist and steal in 23 minutes per game. Even if those stats don't exactly jump off the page, I urge everyone to go watch some film on him, or at the very least the video above.
Thor had himself a very interesting combine and reportedly impressed several teams with his two-way potential. He happens to be one of the youngest players in this year's draft and will still be 18 years old on draft night. With that in mind, he's already likely one of the better defenders in his class, particularly at his position.
While not the most gifted vertical athlete to ever be measured at the combine, the combination of his approximate 7'3" wingspan and impressive lateral quickness more or less negate the need for crazy hops. His deceivingly quick first step adds another layer to his defensive arsenal when he's off the ball as he was quite good at invading passing lanes, particularly off of the opposing team's first pass in transition. These tools along with his feel for the game on that end of the floor give him a higher floor than I think people give him credit for.
What seems to be holding people back the most about him is his offense, which still needs quite a bit of work. Similarly to Kai Jones, there seems to be evidence present that he's capable of developing his offense, but for now, it's mostly raw potential. His biggest strength on that end of the floor for the time being seems to be getting to the bucket, whether that be by rim running in transition, cutting off the ball, or getting an easy bucket off of a steal.
While his shot aesthetically looks pretty good, other than perhaps his foot placement, it did not fall consistently during his season with Auburn, as he only shot at only about a 30% clip from three. Based on his decent free-throw shooting though, I have some optimism that this can be improved rather quickly with some tweaking and repetitions.
All in all, Thor is increasingly becoming someone to look out for on draft night based on his age, talent, and two-way potential. I find it pretty regrettable that I wasn't pointed in his direction earlier on in the year to be able to watch much more of him, but from what I've seen more recently, I wouldn't be mad if the Spurs were to take a risk on him with the 12th pick or perhaps even trade back for him. Regardless, I'll be paying closer attention to him moving forward.