Back in October, after undrafted Adonis Thomas was waived by the Hawks, Milton Lee, the Nets GM for minor league operations, recommended the team sign the 20-year-old. It was a minor move. Thomas barely practiced before being cut. But then that was the plan. Under NBA rules, an NBA affiliate automatically acquires D-League rights to the last three players cut by the parent club.
Signing Thomas was low-risk high-reward move. A 6'7" forward with a 7'1" wingspan and 40.5" max vertical had been one of country's top high school recruits in 2011. He won two FIBA youth championships with the likes Andre Drummond, Bradley Beal, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Tony Wroten. He disappointed at Memphis in part because of injuries, in part because he was considered a tweener. He considered himself a Joe Johnson clone.
So far, the risk has paid off, as Armor coach Doug Overton noted earlier in the week. Friday night, Thomas scored a career-high 29, to go along with Darius Johnson-Odom's 33, and the Armor won its fourth straight, beating the Maine Red Claws, 108-101. Over the last four games, he's averaging 21.5 points per game, shooting 51.4 percent.
Could the Nets call Thomas up? Yes, but so could any NBA team willing to take the next risk with him.
Johnson-Odom and Thomas exploded in the first half, combining for 40 of the Armor’s 67 points before the break. Johnson-Odom hit 50 percent (5-of-10) of his shots from the field and knocked down 10-of-12 from the charity stripe to lead all scorers with 21, while Thomas connected on 8-of-13 attempts for 19 of his own.
Freshly-activated Bruce Massey was the third Springfield player to reach double figures at halftime, registering 10 points off the bench. The Armor bench combined to shoot 63 percent (10-for-16) for a 23-14 edge over Maine’s reserves.
Nursing a six-point lead to start the second half, the Armor pushed their lead to nine to begin the fourth after the Springfield defense held Maine to just 30 percent shooting from the field and 17 points in the third. The Red Claws rallied over the final 12 minutes, pulling within three at 96-93 with just under four minutes to play, but the Armor answered and kept the Maine offense at bay, holding on for the 108-101 victory.
Maine’s offense was paced by Frank Gaines with 21 points, while former Net and Armor guard Tyshawn Taylor added 16 off the bench. The Red Claws held edges in rebounds (48-43), steals (13-12) and blocks (7-6), but the Armor connected on 10 more free throws, though Maine missed just one (17-of-18).
The Armor will trek back to Massachusetts for a Saturday night showdown with the Canton Charge at the MassMutual Center. Like all D-League games, it will be televised on the league's YouTube channel.
- Game Info: Armor at Red Claws - D-League
- Springfield Armor win 4th straight game, 108-101 over Maine Red Claws - Kevin Thomas - Springfield Republican