Scouting Report: Tyrus Thomas

Tyrus Thomas

Name: Tyrus Thomas (pronounced TIE-rus)
Position: PF
Height: 6’9″
Weight: 215 pounds
Birth Date: August 17, 1986 (23 years old)
Birth Place: Baton Rouge, LA
Number: 24
Nicknames: Big T’s, Free Money, The Mercenary, T-Time, TT, Ty, Ty-Rise
College: Louisiana State
Drafted: 2006, 1st round, 4th overall by Portland
Experience: 3 seasons
Previous Team: None
Contract: $4.7 million in 2009-10
Expect: Blocked shots and midrange jumpers
Don’t expect: Post play

On offense:
Tremendous upside potential. Those three words explain why, on the night of the 2006 NBA Draft, the Bulls traded the draft rights to LaMarcus Aldridge (the second overall pick) and a future second round draft choice to the Portland Trail Blazers for the draft rights to Tyrus Thomas (the fourth overall pick) and throw-in Viktor Khryapa. The belief was (apparently) that Thomas had the potential to be a much better profesionall basketball player than Aldridge. And that may even be the case…someday. It hasn’t happend so far, though. Aldridge has been better, and Bulls management, coaches and fans are still waiting for Thomas to live up to his potential.

Thomas can’t post up, partly due to a lack of the requisite size and strength, and partly due to the fact that he doesn’t have (to my knowledge) a single inside move. Simply put, the kid would benefit greatly from something as simple as a jump hook. To this point, however, Thomas has been content to spot up for midrange jumpers and score off dunks and layups created by passes from teammates. He really can’t manufacture his own offense, which is why almost 70 percent of his field goals last season came off of assists. When Thomas does try to invent something, disaster may ensue in the form of ball-handling mistakes and bad passes, which explains why he had more turnovers (129) than assists (77) last season.

During the 2008-09 campaign, 55 percent of Thomas’ field goal attempts were jumpers, a stunning amount considering his Effective Field Goal Percentage on those shots was .350. His eFG% was much higher on dunks (.883) and inside shots (.581), which leads to the question: Why does Tyrus shoot so many jumpers? I guess because he truly believes in his outside shooting. And so, apparently, does Vinny Del Negro.

Thomas is at his best in the open court or cutting to the basket in halfcourt situations. However, his effectiveness is reduced any time a defender is standing between him and the basket. He struggles to finish under pressure (unless he’s dunking). When Thomas has to pull up short of the hoop, he can’t seem to square up for a good shot (although that doesn’t stop him from chucking it up). And he’s not as good an offensive rebounder as he should be, probably because he’d rather hang out on the perimeter than mix it up inside. Last season, he was fourth on the team on the offensive glass (1.9 per game), behind Brad Miller (2.5), the departed Drew Gooden (2.6) and Joakim Noah (3.1). In fact, his rebounding in general has been declining. See below.

When inspired to take is strong to the basket, Thomas can draw fouls. He was second on the team (behind Ben Gordon) in Total Free Throw Attempts last season (304). He also shot a respectable 78 percent from the foul line…quite an improvement from the 60 percent he shot as a rookie.

On defense:
Thomas’ greatest asset is his shot-blocking ability, particularly in weak-side help situations. This is due primarily to his superior length and athleticism. Last season, he ranked 4th in the NBA in Total Blocks (151), 6th in Blocks Per 48 Minutes (3.33) and 8th in Blocks Per Game (1.91). During the playoffs, Thomas was even better, ranking 1st in both Blocks Per Game (2.86) and Blocks Per 48 Minutes (4.92). And he was 8th in Total Blocks (20) despite the fact that the Bulls were eliminated in the first round.

Thomas’ long arms also enable him to grab a fair number of steals. In fact, he was tied for second on the team (with the departed Larry Hughes and Luol Deng) in Steals Per Game (1.2). Only Kirk Hinrich averaged more (1.3).

On the downside, 215 pounds is feather-light for an NBA power forward, so Thomas can be (and often is) overpowered in man-to-man situations. More troubling, however, is his defensive rebounding. Despite ranking third on the team (behind the departed Drew Gooden and mid-season pickup Brad Miller) with 4.6 per game, there has been a downward trend. Despite a steady increase in Minutes Per Game — from 13.4 his rookie season, to 18.0 his sophomore season, to 27.5 last season — his Defensive Rebounds Per 36 Minutes have fallen from 6.7, to 6.5, to 6.0. In fact, his Total Rebounds Per 36 Minutes have gone from 10.0 in 2006-07, to 9.3 in 2007-08, to 8.4 in 2008-09.

Last season, the Bulls ranked 28th in Defensive Rebounding. And while that’s not all Thomas’ fault, the Bulls desperately need him to hit the defensive glass with increased intensity this season.

Thomas has been dogged by quiet (but regular) rumors that he can be immature and hard to deal with. Of course, many NBA players are dogged by similar rumors. But they might seem worse due to Thomas’ iffy decision-making and general inconsistency. You never know what he’s going to give you: it could be 18 points and 12 rebounds with 4 blocked shots one night and then 6 and 4 with no blocked shots the next.

That said, this is a contract year for Thomas. And you know what that means.

Thomas may be the best pure athlete on the team. He’s long, fast and can jump to the moon. These attributes make him a fantastic transition player and a nice option for pick-and-rolls. Thomas can stick the midrange jumper, but he takes too many of those and makes too few forays to the basket. As it stands, Thomas is by far the team’s best shot blocker and weak-side defender. He needs to improve his shot selection, his ability to finish around the basket, and his capacity to focus on a nightly basis. It would also be nice if he could add a little muscle and hit the boards with renewed intensity.

More Tyrus: profile profile
Basketball-Reference profile stats
Wikipedia entry

Bonus video:


31 Responses to Scouting Report: Tyrus Thomas

    Brad S. August 21, 2009 at 3:06 pm #

    I’m surprised by some of those stats. I mean, we all had a general feeling that Tyrus was not progressing the way management had hoped, …but actually regressing during his first 3 years??? WOW! How bad does that Aldrigde swap look now?

    I hope some combination of the Reins-Fore-Pax machine has time to sit him down and point out the awesome city he gets to play for. Remind Tyrus of where they drafted him and that he gets to play with a premier point guard and on a team that functions without drama. Also, they might want to point out that the Bulls have a good amount of money to spend next year to re-sign him and perhaps even bring in another star free agent.

    ….Then tell him he will be gone by the deadline if he doesn’t become who they expected to get when they drafted him. If we are tired of his BS, can you imagine how the Bulls organization must feel?

    Chris August 21, 2009 at 4:48 pm #

    Ah teh tale of two Tyrus’s. He is a youngin but he’s got to prove his worth this year….then we have to hope its not just cuz of a contract year and hope we dont get stuck holdin the bag for another 3 or 4 years or uninterested play. Its a tough one.

    felipe garcia August 21, 2009 at 8:01 pm #

    I remember the day when the Bulls had the 2nd draft pick in 2006. When they drafted LaMarcus Aldridge, I was so happy that day until later on I heard they traded him for Tyrus Thomas? and for Portland PF player Viktor Khryapa??? I was pissed off! I had the chance to see LaMarcus Aldridge play in college and I enjoyed watching him play and I knew that same day he was ready to play at the NBA level and become a better player then Tyrus. I was crossing my fingers that day until I heard the Bulls did draft him but traded him away. I knew that Aldridge was going to be one of the missing pieces that the Bulls needed in the PF shot, ever since they lost Eddy Curry to NY. I also had the chance to see Tyrus Thomas play in college and he was not that great like people thought he was. I think that Noah played a lil bit more better then Tyrus Thomas in college lol. I had a feeling that if the Bulls drafted Ty Thomas, he would need lots of time to develop his game at the NBA level and sadly it turns out i was right again! I still don’t understand why the Bulls would trade a player that is ready to play at the NBA level. LaMarcus Aldridge is 6-11 a perfect size for a PF player that the Bulls needed with strength, I big man that can run, score inside & oustside and can play good defense man to man. But at the end, the Bulls pickup a smaller PF weak player, that can’t score much and limits his game. Tyrus Thomas can still be a really good player in the future maybe, but we still won’t know for sure yet! I just hope that Tyrus Thomas can picks up his game this season to the next level and play better then Aldridge. If not, Good bye Tyrus Thomas and hello Chris Bosh, David Lee or maybe Carlos Boozer for now lol.

    Czernobog August 21, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

    Thomas has a problem that is not going to go away – he’s just not very bright. I think he’s the most glaring weakness in the bulls’ lineup.

    andres Lopez August 21, 2009 at 8:49 pm #

    I agree with Garcia comment, I still don’t understand y the Bulls would trade LaMarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas? On draft night, clearly everybody knew, including scouting reporters said that Aldridge was ready to play at the NBA level for sure at 100% just like D. Rose was last season. But when Tyrus Thomas name came up, lots of people where still unsure of his talent. 50% of the people thought he was going to be a great player like Charles Barkley or Patrick Ewing lol and the other half thought he was going to be an average player that is going to be un-consisted at most times. Doesn’t that give you a sign as a GM? saying, why take that risk with this young player??? lol At the end the other half of the people where right about Tyrus Thomas talent, he is so far an average ok player lol. So far Aldridge #’s are even way better then Ty Thomas #’s on offense and defense. I just hope as well that Tyrus Thomas has 1 of his better performances this year with better # then Aldridge lol. If not like garcia mention this already, good bye Tyrus Thomas.

    mike killer August 21, 2009 at 9:23 pm #

    As a coach or manager, it must be frustrating knowing you have such a young talented guy like Tyrus Thomas. If he wanted to, he can average a double double number per game. If, he puts more time & effected at the gym, practicing on developing his game more like LaMarcus Aldridge did the previous years. Yes, the same guy that the Bulls drafted and traded him away lol.

    mike killer August 21, 2009 at 9:27 pm #

    even more*

    Brad S. August 21, 2009 at 9:32 pm #

    Dear Felipe & Andres:

    I couldn’t agree more. I remember I was working late the night of that draft and I had a friend call me and tell me who the Bulls had just taken, I was excstatic! Then I tuned into the draft on the radio only to hear that the Bulls had traded LaMarcus for Tyrus. “Damn!”

    However, do you remember all the flak Paxson was taking for only drafting solid, character guys who were ready for the NBA, but had low potential? I do. The rap was that the bulls would always be good, but never great because they didn’t gamble enough on potentially great players. I think this was Paxson’s reaction to all that criticism. I also think that he burned his hand and went back to his tried & true method on the very next draft: Noah.

    Brad S. August 21, 2009 at 9:34 pm #

    Hey Matt, I was just thinking. Couldn’t you find a better Tyrus Thomas mix to put on the site? You know, something a with a few more missed jumpers!

    Dan August 21, 2009 at 10:24 pm #

    Wow, way too many Tyrus Thomas haters on this post. The kid is already one of the best shot blockers in the league. He’s got a developing jumper and will probably develop some post game. I believe he will definitely rebound better this season, and probably have a breakout year.

    andres Lopez August 21, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

    I agree with you also Brad, It was probably all the criticism Paxson was getting in the past about him not gambling enough with potential players. Now look what happen to him for listening to those stupid people. The Bulls ended up with Tyrus Thomas, a guy that does not take his game serious enough, does not work hard enough and does not puts enough time at the gym to develop his game to the next level. If i was John Paxson right now, I would burn my hand again for making those stupid mistakes. Just like when the Bulls traded Elton Brand for Tyson Chandler? ‘Big mistake again’ in the past b-cuz Elton Brand was the Bulls 1st round draft pick, he was rookie of the year along with Steve Francis when he was a good player lol and Brand averaged a double double per game along with sum block shots and steals. For example, that’s like saying the Bulls would trade D. Rose for a 1st round 2nd future draft pick lol which I hope they would never make that mistake again!

    andres Lopez August 21, 2009 at 11:01 pm #

    along with a garbage ok player like Viktor Khryapa for D. Rose lol

    felipe garcia August 21, 2009 at 11:26 pm #

    Good joke lopez lol. Hopefully the Bulls GM’s will learn from their mistakes in the past and start drafting players that they know and the scouting reporters know they are ready for the NBA level like LaMarcus Aldridge & Elton Brand were in the past. Lets just hope that their 2 new rookies are not the mistakes again lol

    mike killer August 21, 2009 at 11:56 pm #

    It’s not that we are hating on Tyrus Thomas ‘Dan’! We are just mad that the Bulls traded away LaMarcus Aldridge the PF player they are missing for Tyrus Thomas. The Bulls GM’s thought that Tyrus Thomas was going to become a way better player then Aldridge in the future. And so far it been 3 year and he has shown no signs of improvement with better numbers then Aldridge in the past and everyone knows it! If you had a chance to go back in time and you were the Bulls GM, would you have traded LaMarcus Aldridge for Tyrus Thomas? No you wouldn’t (just made my point.)

    mike killer August 22, 2009 at 12:03 am #

    B-cuz everyone knows LaMarcus Aldridge #’s right now are way better then Tyrus Thomas #’s on offense and defense. Including, Aldridge has more strength, size: at 6-11, good scorer, taking smart shots unlike someone I know (hint: Tyrus Thomas) lol, good rebounder, good defender and a good free-throw shooter.

    mike killer August 22, 2009 at 12:05 am #

    And he is only 1 year older then Tyrus Thomas, making him not that old at the age of 24.

    mario August 22, 2009 at 12:41 am #

    man you wait and see tyrus is going to have his career year only because he is do for a contract the bulls would be stupid to sign him long term after what happened to kirk and luol bunch of busts ain’t doing nothing with their huge contracts get rid of him

    andres Lopez August 22, 2009 at 1:05 am #

    Well ic Mr. Mario about Tyrus Thomas this coming season, and I don’t know if I agree with you about Hinrich being a busts during his contract year. So far, he has done everything the bulls wanted him to do: play hard defense and become a strong leader which he had done in the past. But Deng I agree with you their b-cuz he is getting more money then Hinrich and has only shown 2 years of good production in 05-07. Deng & Tyrus Thomas are the only 1 that really need to step up their game this season coming up. Along with the 2 rookie if they want some play time. Go BULLS!!!

    BRIAN August 22, 2009 at 5:56 am #


  20. aha.ins@live.c?om'
    bill thomas August 22, 2009 at 6:43 pm #

    I strongly agree, Tyrus Thomas needs to get more serious at the gym and start work on building more muscles power and work more on his jump shot.

  21. aha.ins@live.c?om'
    bill thomas August 22, 2009 at 6:46 pm #


    Boppinbob August 22, 2009 at 6:54 pm #

    Tyrus showed some improvement towards the end of the season as he got more playing time. That being said, it was not significant improvement. Ty needs to bulk up, improve his passing skills, improve his rebounding, improve his jumpshot. His team defense is good, individual defense will improve as he bulks up. He needs to show significant improvement between now and the trading deadline or he should be gone. While he is only 23, to my knowledge he has not shown the work ethic necessary to improve.

    bill thomas August 22, 2009 at 8:01 pm #

    I would also like to say something positive about Tyrus Thomas, but I can not because he still has not shown me significant improvements in the past 3 seasons. So far the Bulls former 2nd draft pick LaMarcus Aldridge the true PF big man they need, has shown more productive #’s then Tyrus Thomas in the previous past seasons. Overall, I think that Tyrus Thomas needs to step up this game this season to the next level. If not, the Bulls need to trade him for David Lee or Carlos Boozer for now. Tyrus Thomas still needs to show us that he was a way better pick then LaMarcus Aldridge.

    rocky August 23, 2009 at 2:37 am #

    Its not Tyrus fault that skiles was only playing a top 10 pick on 13 minutes per game. This was the only season he got significant playing time. How can you work on your defeciencies if your not playing against top competition day in and out to find what those deficiencies. You don’t draft a guy that high and not put him on the floor so he can develope and work thru his faults. Tyrus has bulked up this off season and If he gets the minutes a starting power forward is supposed to get then I think he is due for a big season and could be in the running for defensive player of the year by season’s end.

    DJ August 23, 2009 at 8:51 pm #

    I agree with your comment Rocky & I understand what your trying to say, but that still does not answer the fact of why Tyrus Thomas has not shown any big improvements on his game these past few years. He still has not shown us consistent numbers with scoring more points and rebounding, when he got more minutes. For example, on sum nights he looked like an improve super star player, averaging a double double per game and on other nights, he looked like he was lost on the court and did not know what he was doing. (like a rookie.) Tyrus Thomas at least has 3 years of experience under his belt. Even if he didn’t get enough playing time, that still does not answer the fact, that he still has sum knowledge to understand the NBA level and what he needs to do to improve his game ever season. Remember, he was a top 4th draft pick with high expectations and he has not shown any positive signs so far as a PF. For example, Paul Millsap had better Number then Tyrus Thomas in the past 3 seasons and he was a 2nd round 17th draft pick in 2006. Yes, the same year that Tyrus Thomas was drafted. Millsap average the same amount of playing time minutes that Thomas played and put up better consistent #’s then him with scoring more points and rebounding!

    DJ August 23, 2009 at 8:56 pm #

    All I am saying is that, I just hope that Tyrus Thomas can improve his game and take it to the next level and become that inside PF player that the Bulls are missing in their lineup this season!

    Max power August 23, 2009 at 9:20 pm #

    I agree, Tyrus Thomas needs to step up his game and become a better PF player then Paul Millsap & LaMarcus Aldridge this season! If not, good bye Tyrus Thomas and hopefully the Bulls will replace him with David Lee or Carlos Boozer baby!!!

    Boppinbob August 24, 2009 at 6:10 pm #

    The fact that Tyrus has “tremendous upside potential” is becoming a liability at this stage of his career. Last season he started to show extended flashes of that “potnetial”. If those flashes of “potential” do not become more consistent prior to the trade deadline he should not be considered part of the teams future, this is Tyrus’ make or break season, even though he is only 23-24.

    mike killer August 24, 2009 at 9:10 pm #

    Yup, Tyrus Thomas needs to show us this season, more consistent inside scoring and averaging close to a double double per game, if he still wants to play in a Bulls uniform! He has enough experience to become into a potential scorer & rebounder if he wanted to. Other then that being said, his defense is perfect right now. All he really needs to do during his training is workout more at the gym, putting on more muscle weight and get stronger around the basket!


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