In his quest to discuss the most over-worked and over-relient players in NCAA Division I men’s basketball, Basketball Prospectus’ John Gasaway has Ohio State’s Deshaun Thomas front and center.
Gasaway, in a piece penned for ESPN.com, states that while Thomas’ growth over the last three years has been nothing short of brilliant, the way That Matta lives and dies by the 6-foot-7-inch forward is everything but.
Let’s get the obvious choice out of the way at the top, shall we? The arc charted by Thomas in his three seasons at OSU has been remarkable. Not only did the McDonald’s All-American come off the bench as a freshman, he actually didn’t come off the bench all that much, averaging just 14 minutes a game. Now look: Thomas is always on the floor, and he takes 32 percent of the offense’s shots during those abundant minutes.
At least when LaQuinton Ross is in the game Thomas has a partner in assertive shooting, but Ross averages just 19 minutes per contest. We’ve seen that a rotation of Thomas, a half-timer like Ross and six additional role players has not been very effective.
In the losses to Kansas and Illinois, Ohio State scored just 0.83 points per possession. Granted, that’s an extreme number that won’t recur. The Jayhawks aren’t exactly chopped liver on D, and on paper, this is still a pretty good OSU offense. But against top competition — the kind the Buckeyes will see quite often in Big Ten play — this offense is questionable because Thomas can’t do it all by himself.
Past Thomas, Matta’s rotation is filled with players who are efficient in the narrow sense, but one or two of those guys — whether it’s Aaron Craft, Lenzelle Smith Jr. or someone else — need to be efficient while carrying a bigger chunk of the offense.
The knock on Thomas over his Freshman season was his willingness (and desire) to take every shot imaginable. Unfortunately, given the position the Buckeyes are currently in, it is Thomas who is now counted on to do just that. Thomas is, per ESPN’s Chad Ford, currently the 65th-ranked prospect for the 2013 NBA Draft.