The Memphis Grizzlies are hoping that D-League flyer this season can have another impact like the one they scored with combo forward James Johnson last season. The Grizzlies sign Tyrus Thomas to a 10-day contract to see if his size and rejuvenated play can alleviate some of the stress on Zach Randolph who recently missed a stretch of nine games with knee swelling.
Thomas isn't the biggest power forward, but at 6'10 and 225lbs, he's got the length that the Grizzlies might occasionally miss from the recently-departed Tayshaun Prince. Thomas looks to bounce back from season ending surgery for a cyst removal last year, and the Grizzlies apparently saw enough in his two games with the Iowa Energy in which he averaged 14 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
It's another story of a top draft pick failing to meet expectations and trying to work his way back into relevance in the NBA. Alex Kennedy of Basketball Insiders published a candid piece on Thomas right before the start of the 2014-15 season. It's an interesting read that paints a picture of a motivated player who's been through the fire, and it sounds like Thomas' attitude lines up with what the Grizzlies need as they start to solidify their bench rotation for a title run:
I think if I'm in a good situation, the perception will change; I think that's inevitable," Thomas said. "I want to find a team that I can mesh with and add value to.
Here's what some of the GBB staff had to say about the signing:
Joe Mullinax: He screams James Johnson, not just in terms of type of player (although there are some athleticism similarities), but in type of impact. Of course a major difference is that, where Johnson was a 3/4 tweener, Thomas is most certainly a Power Forward/Center in certain situations. He is another option at forward who has more experience defending bigger bodies down low than perhaps a Jeff Green does, but who still brings that ability to create mismatches offensively with his ability to run and explode.
He hopefully will not be depended upon as much as Johnson was at times last season, but he serves the purpose of solidifying the forward position with athleticism alongside Jon Leuer's ability to (supposedly) space the floor and Jarnell Stokes' raw physicality and force. Most certainly worth a flyer given his NBA resume, if he is truly healthy.
Kevin Yeung: Honestly, the main thing that gets me here is the story of redemption. Draft bust, screwed over by injury, now working back up to the NBA via D-League. Plot events are a bit different from James Johnson, but similar story arc overall. (Of course, the athleticism is fun too, even if some of it's gone now.)
Tyrus Thomas might not get much run with Grizzlies, but he's got some skills. Lengthy, rim protector, mobile on both ends, nice midrange j.— Andrew Ford (@AndrewFord22) January 20, 2015
If Thomas sticks, he will undoubtedly be a better choice as the backup power forward than any other player the Grizzlies have on the roster.— Andrew Ford (@AndrewFord22) January 20, 2015