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2021 NBA Draft Coverage: JT Thor

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A super-long combo forward with elite defensive potential and a smooth shooting stroke

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: DEC 12 Holiday Hoopsgiving - Auburn v Memphis Photo by Michael Wade/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After just one year at Auburn, forward JT Thor entered his name into the draft pool and did not withdraw. The native of Alaska is banking on the hope that his amazing physical profile which led to him being a four-star recruit will also secure him a spot in the NBA.

His name has been rising up draft boards from the mid second round to now as high as the mid-20s. That means Thor may not even be available come pick 30, but if he’s around, the Utah Jazz will need to take a long look at this long forward.

BIO

  • Age (on draft day): 18.88
  • School: Auburn
  • Height (w/out shoes): 6’8.5”
  • Height (w/shoes): 6’9.25”
  • Wingspan: 7’3.25”
  • Standing Reach: 9’2”
  • Weight: 203 lbs

STATS

Per Game Table
Season School Conf G GS MP FG FGA FG% 2P 2PA 2P% 3P 3PA 3P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS SOS
2020-21 Auburn SEC 27 27 23.0 3.1 7.1 .440 2.3 4.3 .530 0.8 2.7 .297 2.3 3.1 .741 1.6 3.4 5.0 0.9 0.8 1.4 1.6 2.0 9.4 9.28
Career Auburn 27 27 23.0 3.1 7.1 .440 2.3 4.3 .530 0.8 2.7 .297 2.3 3.1 .741 1.6 3.4 5.0 0.9 0.8 1.4 1.6 2.0 9.4 9.28
Provided by CBB at Sports Reference: View Original Table
Generated 7/13/2021.

NBA fit

Thor is a classic late first-round “boom-or-bust” prospect. His measurables make scouts and fans alike drool and his highlight packages are filled with spectacular feats. The drawback is he’s a raw, undeveloped package that makes all the moments in between those highlight plays much less than spectacular. This can be seen on film and the fact that his production at the NCAA level was lackluster in most cases. As such, he will need a solid two years to realize any notable amount of his potential.

Auburn did not use Thor as a primary or even secondary part of the offense. He worked much better as an off-ball shooter and cutter. In the 12 games where fellow draft prospect Sharife Cooper played alongside Thor, the latter put up slightly better stats. He shot 45.7 percent overall and 35.1 percent from three and had a slightly higher points average (10.9 vs 9.4).

The defensive side to the ball is where Thor has the chance to make the biggest immediate impact. He’s still a little too light to be a great or versatile defender now, but he possesses virtually every other tool necessary to be an All-Defensive player. His length is an obvious tool, but Thor is also fairly quick for someone with a standing reach north of nine feet. This combination of size and speed gives him the potential to be a true inside-outside defender. Someone capable of switching on the perimeter on one possession and getting a weakside block on the next.

The major question that will be asked about Thor is whether or not he can shoot the ball. At just 29.7 percent from three on 74 attempts as a freshman, Thor was on the fringe of being a capable shooter. And there are signs of eventually being able to make it over the hump and become at least league average. He made 74.1 percent of his free throws and his shooting motion is smooth. With refinement and repetition (it’s worth noting again that he’ll still be 18 on draft day) the production should come.

Utah Jazz fit

The fact that Thor is a fairly raw player works a bit against him as the Jazz are trying to maximize their championship window right this moment. But ready-made NBA prospects aren’t going to be available at 30 barring some major surprises. Still, Thor has enough talent now to make an impact at least on defense, and that’s what this team needs.