The allure of Tyrus Thomas is obvious: when Thomas is active and engaged, he can seriously impact games with his defense and lead a one-man assault on the rim on offense. He has the unique package of length, quickness, size, and athleticism necessary to be a versatile all-purpose defender. But something gets lost between the idea of Tyrus Thomas in theory and the actual Tyrus Thomas in practice. He hasn’t quite figured out how to contribute in meaningful ways on a nightly basis, but through no fault of his physical limitations. The real game for Thomas rests solely between his ears, and once he figures that out (supposing he eventually does)? Stock up on canned goods, buy up all the bottled water you can, and head down into the shelter.
But Tyrus’ incredible doesn’t necessarily make him a great fit in any frontcourt. Case in point? The Minnesota Timberwolves, who, despite the fact that Thomas would be paired with either Kevin Love or Al Jefferson, still are making a run at acquiring the Bulls forward. From Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski:
Several league executives suggested the Minnesota Timberwolves could be a sleeper for him. Minnesota general manager David Kahn has been researching Thomas and has plenty of assets – three 2010 first-round picks, multiple second-rounders and a host of expiring contracts – to make it happen. Once the Timberwolves trade Al Jefferson this summer, they can re-sign Thomas and plug him into the frontline with Kevin Love. Jefferson is expected to be traded for a talented, young small forward. Trading for Thomas would be a way to get a long, athletic power forward with upside, and the Timberwolves could easily re-sign him this summer.
Trading for Thomas would hardly seem like a horrible move for the Wolves at present, but I’m not sure that having Tyrus and Kevin Love as the starting bigs is anything resembling an effective strategy. Love is an absolutely terrific player, but has neither the size nor mobility to defend talented offensive bigs. Thomas may be able to provide excellent help-side defense if he pulls it together, but he’s far too thin to be the team’s go-to post defender. So the Wolves would essentially be left with two talented big men who can provide very different things…only they wouldn’t seem to really be capable of guarding anyone. Love will do his best down low against traditional bigs, and ultimately fall short; Thomas will float in and out of games and gamble defensively. Young team like Minnesota should focus on acquiring young talent/assets, and that part of the rumor is sound. But in terms of clearing out Al Jefferson in favor of a Thomas-Love front line? Color me pessimistic.