The offensive tendencies of Deshaun Thomas
There is no doubt Jared Sullinger is the primary offensive option for Ohio State when he is on the floor. However, he is now battling injuries, having missed the Kansas game and playing only 6 minutes in a game against South Carolina. It is unknown how many games he will miss but Deshaun Thomas has stepped up in his absence in a big way. In the two games against Kansas and South Carolina, Thomas scored 49 points on 20 of 30 shooting from the field.
The following videos will show all 20 made field goals by Thomas in these two games, totaling 45 points, as 4 points came from free throws. Thomas has some clear offensive tendencies, which are very different from those of Jared Sullinger but work nicely in an offense possibly playing without Sullinger. If Thomas can continue to produce offense at the rate he has in these two games, Ohio State will be just fine in Sullinger’s absence.
Mid Range Game
Thomas’ bread and butter is his mid range game as Thomas scored 14 of his 45 points (31%) by creating his own mid range shots. Thomas often chooses to pull up and shoot a one handed mid range shot instead of getting all the way to the rim. This is shown in his free throw rate of 23.9%, proving he does not draw contact at the rim very often.
Thomas is capable of taking a few dribbles, pulling up and hitting the mid range jump shot or shooting off the catch. He is comfortable starting with his back to the basket or facing up before he makes his move. His agility allows him to stay on balance and not turn the ball over while his length allows him to shoot over his defender. Although he does not get to the rim, Thomas’ ability to play the mid range game sufficiently will continue to make him an offensive threat.
Three point shots
Thomas shoots only 34% from behind the three point line but he has shown he is able to catch and shoot and convert the three point shot. Unlike the mid range jump shots, he does not shoot off the dribble but is only comfortable when he is able to catch and shoot. In many of the plays highlighted below, Ohio State is playing 5 around 0 without Sullinger on the floor. Thomas’ ability to hit the three point shot will be critical to cause his defender to guard open, which will space the floor for his teammates.
Dump offs on penetration
With Sullinger out, Ohio State will often play without a player in the post. This will open the paint for dribble penetration for Aaron Craft, William Buford and other OSU guards. This will allow Thomas to get open when the help defense rotates over to cut off the driver. As you can see in the below video, even when he receives a pass off a dribble drive, he often opts for a mid range shot instead of taking the ball all the way to the rim.
While Thomas does not grab many offensive rebounds, posting only a 6.4 offensive rebounding percentage coming into the South Carolina game, Thomas does find himself crashing the glass and putting himself in position to corral offensive rebounds. Without Sullinger on the floor, Thomas grabbed only 2.5% of misses against Kansas but he pulled down 18.5% against South Carolina.
While offensive rebounds are not a major part of Thomas’ offense, he makes the effort to get in position to grab any loose balls and he is able to finish at the rim once he gets the offensive rebound. There will be plenty of misses for Thomas with Sullinger’s 10.7 offensive rebounding percentage off the floor so we may see an uptick in this part of his game.
The offense of Ohio State will look very different if Sullinger is out for an extended period of time. Thomas will see an increase in his shot percentage and he will fit right into an offense that plays without a post presence much of the time. The team will not be as good without Sullinger but Thomas has the talent to make sure the team doesn’t fall too far when Thomas gets more shots.