What does Toronto Raptors newest addition, Matt Thomas offer?

Matt Thomas (Photo by Rodolfo Molina/EB via Getty Images)
Matt Thomas (Photo by Rodolfo Molina/EB via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Raptors have reportedly agreed to a three-year deal with Euroleague guard Matt Thomas. What does he bring to the team?

As everyone waits around for Kawhi Leonard‘s decision, the Toronto Raptors still have work to do. On Monday, the team agreed to terms with Euroleague shooting guard, Matt Thomas, according to Shams Charania of the Athletic.

Thomas is a 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Iowa State University. He spent the past two seasons in the Euroleague, playing for a loaded Valencia team. The deal represents a low-risk opportunity for the Raptors to grab a rotation piece for the next couple of years.

In Europe, Thomas averaged 20 minutes and 11.4 points per game on incredible efficiency. A few days short of 25-years-old, he’s more of a player than a prospect, and the Raptors are hoping he will be able to make an impact right away.

What he brings to the table

Matt Thomas has one skill above anything else and that is his ability to flat-out shoot it.

During his last two years in college, Thomas shot an incredible 43.8-percent on 3-point attempts. While impressive, his volume of attempts was just as important. Thomas managed to hoist up 5.8 shots from beyond the arc per game, often launching on the move and from unconventional angles.

That ability to shoot it translated across the pond. During his two seasons in the Euroleague, Thomas shot 47-percent from beyond the arc, including 48.5-percent in his most recent season!

His catch and shoot numbers are even more ridiculous.

Matt Thomas might be the best shooter on the planet who wasn’t playing in the NBA last season. He will be ready to launch from deep the second he steps off the plane.

His weaknesses

Defensively, it will be tough for him. He’s 6-foot-5 with a similar sized wingspan. He’s strong enough that he shouldn’t get bullied by most shooting guards, but with his size and length, he won’t be much of a deterrent. He’s not a good or even average NBA athlete, so trying to place him on point guards with any type of speed or athleticism is an even worse option.

Offensively, he’s a bit of a one trick pony. In college, more than 68-percent of his shots came from beyond the arc. Once he faced more athletic competition in conference play, that number increased to more than 72-percent. He showed the ability to attack the basket a little more in Europe, but that’s unlikely to hold up against top-NBA athleticism.

He averaged a solid amount of assists in both college and Europe considering his role, but he won’t be breaking down defenses anytime soon. Thomas will provide instant shooting; if you’re looking for something else, you should look elsewhere.

Role with Toronto Raptors next season

Thomas role should be relatively similar next season, whether the Raptors are in contention or attempting to rebuild.

To start, he’ll likely get spot minutes at the end of the rotation as he attempts to prove that he is an NBA player.  He hasn’t shot from an NBA 3-point line since his Summer League appearance in 2017, although considering his prowess, it shouldn’t be much of an adjustment.

Instead, much of his future will be determined by his ability to defend. He doesn’t need to lock opponents down, but he does need to keep his head above water. If Thomas can survive on that end of the court without being picked on, he should be able to find a spot in the Toronto Raptors rotation.

What does this mean for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green?

Absolutely nothing. At the moment, Matt Thomas is an end of the rotation piece who won’t be commanding much of a salary. He’s not a real threat to Danny Green‘s spot in the rotation, and his presence certainly doesn’t mean the Raptors are heading towards a rebuild.

Masai Ujiri saw an available, underpriced asset in the Euroleague and decided to make a value play. Thomas’ addition means nothing for Green or Leonard.

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Matt Thomas has never played in a real NBA game and is far from a sure-thing. But in a league which values shooters more now than ever before, he’s a smart low-risk addition. The Raptors could have easily wasted their 14th or 15th roster spot on a recycled veteran. Instead, they have a potential contributor.