|Xavier Thames tells increasingly elaborate fishing story|Xavier Thames
, San Diego State, Senior, 6'3 195lbs2013/14 stats:
31.3 mpg, 17.6 ppg, 3.2 apg, 2.9 rpg, 1.6 spg, 0.1 bpg, 2.0 fpg, 1.4 TOpg, 41.1% FG, 37.2% 3PT, 83.4% FT
Thames is a high scoring combo guard who is essentially best as a half court driver. Inside the lane, he uses subtle fakes and hesitations to create spacing and looks, and can either get to the basket or shoot a pull-up. Thames gets to the line a lot, welcoming contact and able to draw it through his craft, as well as owning a useful floater for the occasions he is up against true length. He uses both hands to both handle and finish, and although he has little flair, he has good body control and positional awareness to be able to find and expose seams in the defense.
What Thames does not excel at is being able to take that ability to penetrate in the half court and turn it into being able to find looks for team mates. He does not often kick out to shooters when on the drive, nor does he drop off to the big men; he's driving to score, and seems to lack the vision to do more than that. Thames has some point guard abilities, able to find a roll man in pick-and-roll action and very secure with the ball, smooth and safe, but he does not move a defense much.
Outside of the arc, Thames is less effective, as his three point stroke has never been that good. For all his understanding of time and score, of when to carry the scoring load and when to step up, Thams lacks much in the way of dynamicism, being all craft rather than flair. That said, Thames can carry his team for stretches through this craft. Lacking great speed, Thames makes up for it on offense with reliability and an unflappability in the face of defensive pressure, and copes with it on defense with good anticipation, hands and rotations.
A lead guard at the college level, Thames is harder to peg at the NBA level. A bit like Nolan Smith before him, Thames is either big but slow for a point, or small and a bit slow for a two, with a skill set that resides somewhere between the two. Most aspects of his game are solid, but none are spectacular, which begs the question as to what role Thames fits. "Just a guard" is fine in theory, but what's his role in a half court offense, and who does he defend? A very good shot creator and defender at the college level, neither projects that well. Thames is good, very good, but might be better suited for Europe.