The Raptors finally did something! There’s been roughly 24 hours of radio silence from the organization since the the moratorium was lifted on free agent negotiations yesterday at 6:00 PM. It’s not Kawhi Leonard, but the Raptors finally cracked that silence by signing 3-point sharpshooting guard Matt Thomas, most recently of Valencia in Spain’s ACB.
Thomas is just 24, only two years removed from playing his college basketball at Iowa State. Then and now Thomas hung his hat on one thing, jump-shooting. He was a career 40 percent 3-point shooter in college on a high volume, and followed that up by shooting 47 percent (!) from three in his two seasons in Spain on nearly five attempts per game. (He also shot 60 percent from three with the Lakers last year in summer league.) He’s a versatile shooter, not just someone who can shoot with their feet set, but one capable of running off of screens and relocating after the catch to beat contests.
Matt Thomas was arguably the top jump shooter outside of the NBA last season posting an eFG% of 82% on catch and shoot jump shots including 99% when left unguarded.— Synergy Basketball (@SynergySST) July 1, 2019
Thomas also showcased an improved ability to make plays in Europe, not necessarily running pick-and-roll, but reading defenses off the catch and using his shooting gravity to help set-up teammates. He maintained a much higher usage and assist rate in the ACB than he ever did in college, and was a major contributor for a Valencia team that won this year’s Eurocup. Thomas’ offensive playstyle looks comparable to someone like Marco Belinelli, or C.J. Miles to use a more recent Raptors example. As with both of those guys, the concern for Thomas lies on the defensive end. At 6’4”, 190 pounds, he’s too small to work as a wing defensively, and he probably can’t be trusted to guard the ball at an NBA level.
The contract the Raptors offered him will run for three years, and cost them 4.2 million dollars in total, which comes out to an average annual value of $1.4 million. Essentially, Thomas will be paid his minimum possible salary over the life of the contract, but because the contract runs for three years they’ll have to dip into the Mid-Level Exception to sign it. That likely won’t have any implications for their incumbent free agents, perhaps with the exception of Patrick McCaw, who they may need to use the MLE to re-sign.
It’s a low-risk signing, and the Raps get a guy who we know definitely has at least one NBA skill. Not a flashy move, but a solid one for sure. You can never have enough shooting.