JT Thor NBA Scouting Report

Freshman Jokhow “JT” Thor announced that he will test the NBA waters while maintaining his collegiate eligibility. Going through this NBA process should be an interesting storyline to watch, as the decision could weigh heavily both on the 2021 NBA Draft along with the 2021-22 College Basketball landscape.

A smart NBA team in the late-1st round or early 2nd should promise to take him because I’m convinced if he returned for another year he’d play his way into the late lottery or mid-1st, so it’s a worthwhile investment. I felt the same way about Bennedict Mathurin as a prospect before it was announced that he was returning to Arizona for his sophomore year.

JT Thor- F/C, 6’10″, 7’3″ Wingspan, ~210 lbs.

Auburn, Freshman (18 years old)

Offensive role: Play Finisher + Energy Big

Defensive role: Versatile Forward + Rim Protector

NBA projected role: Third Big + Starter Upside

Swing factor: The Jumper

ESPN 2021 Big Board: 67th

Given where ESPN has him ranked and that typically they are intel-based on their rankings, it seems likely that Thor’s feedback will point him back towards the college game and return to Auburn for his sophomore season.

Offensive Synopsis 

Thor is a high motor forward/big that can generate pressure on the rim in a variety of ways. Being the fluid athlete he is at his size offers several unique potential outcomes, especially if he develops in other phases of his game.

Consistency will be the key with him, especially in one phase of his game that I think could improve through harnessing his noted high motor: crashing the offensive glass. He had moments where he’d display that by snatching the ball or leaping from the weak side out of nowhere to secure the offensive board, but I thought he should’ve had these moments much more frequently when you look at his combination of athleticism, length, and motor.

Another area he can struggle with at times is taking care of the ball. The turnovers weren’t too out of control, but at times they were entirely unforced errors that could easily be corrected. While not a high-level passer, Thor isn’t a ball stopper and doesn’t have tunnel vision, which is all you can ask for in a big. He makes the obvious (correct) decisions right in front of him, nothing more, nothing less.

The Jumper

Here he trails the play and hops into this shot, and you’ll notice in the second go-round (slow-mo replay from behind) that his footwork is a little off-kilter as he leans to the side, but the top half of the shot looks fairly clean and effortless.

In that game against Kentucky, he went 5/6 from three-point range and 3/3 from the free-throw line. It was unquestionably the best shooting performance of his young career. High volume outbursts like this for “non-shooters” typically indicate they have more room to grow, especially when they are in the zone and confident.

Here’s an off-movement three from the lefty, and you’ll notice the same thing with his feet pointing to the side here.

Defensive Synopsis 

JT’s calling card will be his impact plays on the defensive side of the floor. He will be able to guard multiple positions (likely 3-5) and should provide elite rim protection. While he isn’t someone you want primarily on quick NBA guards, I believe in his ability to switch onto the perimeter whenever deemed necessary. The defensive versatility he could provide should make him a hot commodity in NBA circles, whether it’s in this year’s draft or in the 22′ NBA Draft.

Along with his rim protection, he does a nice job of jumping the passing lanes to generate steals that lead to transition dunks from time to time. While sometimes he can over gamble or mistime these jumps when he executes it properly it’s a thing of beauty.

Case in point below:

Rim Protection

The steals leading to transition dunks were a joy to watch, but even more aesthetically pleasing would be the flashy blocks at or near the rim. Here he baits Askew on the drive and just times it effortlessly.

I really enjoyed the aggression on this play from JT, as he got into Isaiah Jackson on the perimeter (knowing he’s not a threat off-the-dribble) and then plays the pick and roll perfectly, applying pressure on the ball handler to blow up the play entirely.

NBA Role + Team Fits

There will always be a place in the league for high motor forwards that have tremendous length and athletic ability. What he does with the rest of his skill set remains to be seen, but if you trust in your development staff to unlock the most out of him, then he’s absolutely worth taking a shot on in the late-1st round of the 2021 NBA Draft. If he returns to school, expect him to leap into the late lottery or mid-1st round next season.

Here are some teams I’d enjoy his fit on:

  • Toronto Raptors
  • Houston Rockets
  • Brooklyn Nets
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Denver Nuggets
  • Philadelphia 76ers

That does it for the Thor breakdown, thanks for reading.

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Categories: NBA Draft

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  1. The Case for JT Thor in Phoenix - Zona Hoops

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