The Case for JT Thor in Phoenix

JT Thor, Forward/Big

19 years old, one season at Auburn, 6-foot-9, 203 pounds, 7-foot-3+ wingspan. 

One of the late risers in the draft, Auburn forward JT Thor is not the typical James Jones draft selection due to three key elements: youth, raw shooting, and an upside swing. We’re going to dive into all the reasons that show why he would be worth making an exception to the typical rules, as well as why Thor should be Phoenix’s pick if he’s available at 29. 


Youth

When it comes to especially young prospects being risks in the draft, it’s usually a product of an undeveloped feel for the game. Lucky for Thor, he’s already shown elite flashes of feel, especially on the defensive end. Even luckier for Thor, he’s blessed with top-notch physical tools, pairing his length with smooth movement. Pairing the two, he can be quite disruptive on that end.

Here, that combination shows itself when Thor switches onto a guard after the dribble-handoff and is able to block the lob attempt. 

On this play, he’s able to maintain his defensive discipline and keep himself from fouling. He’s also able to use his length to fish out where the full-speed guard is trying to lay it up from and block it before it has any chance.

JT Thor. God of Thunder or God of Disrupting Basketball Actions?

Another indicator of Thor’s advanced feel is his tenacity and mercilessness on the glass and his ability to be at the right place at the right time for rebounds.


Raw shooting

After evaluating Thor as a shooter, I tend to believe his sub-30% three-point numbers are a bit misleading. He has a generally clean, smooth form, especially for someone of his frame, he has solid free-throw numbers, and his shot profile is encouraging, taking 6.5 three’s per 100 possessions. Thor also has no problem taking contested shots, whether off the catch or the bounce. 

Here’s an in-game example of his catch-and-shoot form. The shot doesn’t go this time, but it’s encouraging to see such an upright body and high release point as a near 7-footer with an even longer wingspan.

Thor has immense potential as the trailer, especially given his ability to rebound. Here, he steps into a catch-and-shoot three following his own rebound.


Upside swing

Here are a few plays that show Thor’s aggression that doesn’t quite work out, but is definitely the correct process to point to a high upside.

 

And here’s some that did work out. Notice how much intensity goes into these plays where he takes over and decides to be the reason Auburn succeeds.


JT Thor, Phoenix Sun

Thor is not a pick that would likely have immediate returns, and that’s okay! Phoenix is very close to having a stacked young core. They have the young stars in Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, they have the young wings who are stars in their roles, Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, but if they add Thor and get Jalen Smith to join the rotation, Phoenix would be well-equipped up and down the lineup with forces on both ends, poised to compete for a decade or more.

I’ve really bought into the prospect that he’s shaping up to be, and frankly, I don’t see anything on the court holding him back from NBA success, especially in a culture like the one coach Monty Williams has established in The Valley.

Related: JT Thor NBA Scouting Report

Follow Damon on Twitter -> @Iamdamonallred



Categories: NBA Draft, Phoenix Suns

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