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Cam Thomas progressing nicely but Nets don’t want to rush things

Phoenix Suns v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

Steve Nash went to Cam Thomas early Tuesday night, 7:38 minutes into the first quarter, in fact. That’s earlier than the head coach had called on the rookie in the 20 previous games when Thomas sat near the end of the bench. Thomas responded, scoring eight points in the first quarter while recording an assist and a steal as well.

For the game, Thomas had 12 points in 25 minutes on 5-of-9 shooting, including 2-of-4 from deep. He also picked up two assists with no turnovers. It was easily his best, most controlled game. Not only was he confident, he was productive.

“I’m just hooping for real. Whatever shot is given some to me, I’ll take it. Today it was two catch-and-shoots and, like, a few off the dribble. So just playing basketball, reading the game,” said Thomas post-game. “As long as I read the game properly, I’ll be fine.”

Thomas also couldn’t resist trolling one of his two superstar mentors following James Harden’s celebration of his first putback dunk ever.

Thomas is indeed becoming one of the boys at barely 20 years old. The same promise that got Nets fans excited in Summer League and G League is slowly being fulfilled. Thomas has scored in double figures in three of the four games when he’s played at least 15 minutes. He’s averaging 10 points in those four games while shooting 43 percent overall and 31 percent from deep. More important, the Nets are 3-1 in those games.

Nash though is still talking about giving Thomas time, not so much minutes.

“We believe in him. We love the player we were able to draft,” Nash said before the Knicks game. “I’m proud of the growth he’s made, because he has a huge adjustment to make from the role he’s played his whole life to the role we’re asking him to play with the makeup of our team and those kind of primary scorers we have in James [Harden] and Kevin [Durant]. But also the shift from high school to college game — where he was an off-the-dribble scorer, a lot of midrange shots — to the NBA game now that doesn’t necessarily allow room for that other than a dozen guys or so.”

Thomas, the nation’s leading freshman scorer last season at LSU, was taken 27th. So, his production is lower than any contender should expect. But, of course, the Nets need scoring to complement Kevin Durant and James Harden. Thomas said he understands his role. (Did you have any doubt?)

“[Losing Harris] is big, because Joe, you know, [is the] best shooter in the league. He’s like the leading 3-point percentage shooter, so of course we’re going to miss him. But it’s next man up,” Thomas said prior to the game Tuesday. “If that’s me, I’ve got to be in the rotation and knock down those shots that he usually makes, and bring what I can bring to help the team elevate and have us in a good stretch.”