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Xavier Thames thriving on Defense in D-League

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James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The D-League Finals begin this week and for the second straight year, the Fort Wayne Mad Ants are the favorite to win it all ... and the Nets only farmhand, a player they drafted at No. 59 last June, is a key reason why. Xavier Thames, a 6'3" combo guard out of San Diego State, didn't play well in the summer league but the Nets hung on to his rights and he's now seen as one of the league's top defenders.

Reports the local Fort Wayne paper, the Journal-Gazette...

Thames has shown the ability to score at the professional level – he made 44.2 percent of his shots and averaged 7.1 points and 19.4 minutes during 18 regular-season games with the Mad Ants – but if they win another championship, it’ll be his defense that’s likely remembered.

"I just come out and try to give energy, a spark off the bench, whatever Coach needs me to do," Thames said. "Especially at the defensive end, getting deflections and different things like that."

The Nets never signed Thames. If they did, then cut him, they would have lost his rights. So first, they arranged for him to play in Spain, then when that didn't work out --his team went bankrupt-- they got him a gig in the D-League with the Mad Ants.  Billy King has said that Thames will be part of the Nets two summer league teams in July and is likely to be in training camp