Could David Blatt be panicking? Armed with a retooled roster after last season’s Euroleague disappointment, Maccabi Tel Aviv 2012-13 edition hasn’t overwhelmed in preseason play with little team cohesiveness or incorporation of the Team Russia coach’s patented defensive game plans in evidence. The Israel side washed out in a the four Euroleague-team Domreiter Cup in September before redeeming themselves slightly in Paris, winning the pre-season tourney there last weekend (albeit against lesser competition).
Before topping Galatasaray for the tournament title, Blatt sounded off a bit after his players got by with a win over home team Paris Levallois. “We had two offensive rebounds in 40 minutes,” said Blatt. “You know, I’m 50 and I would have gotten more than two offensive rebounds if I had been on the court.”
But Blatt offered a solution on Saturday which appears to be a matter of fact now, in light of Pops Mensah-Bonsu’s recent release from the club: “Malcolm [Thomas] is exactly the kind of player you need to play a team like Paris Levallois. He is very athletic, fast and plays above the rim. It brings a lot of energy, but also creates a lot of easy baskets … Thomas is very good at offensive rebounding and he will bring what’s missing [on the team].”
Undrafted by the NBA out of San Diego State University in 2011 and faced with the lockout canceling swathes of NBA training, Malcolm Thomas went overseas to play with the South Korean league’s Mobis Phoebus; in a couple months, Thomas was good for over 21 ppg, 11 rpg and 3 bpg. Following this in 2011-12 came stints with the Los Angeles D-Fenders and Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the NBA D League plus three games with the San Antonio Spurs. This summer he played in Summer League games with the Chicago Bulls team and as recently as one week ago was being worked out by the Miami Heat.
BallinEurope wishes Thomas good luck in this latest venture; now let’s see if he is indeed what appears to be a significantly missing piece of the puzzle. Even so, he’ll have to act quickly: the Euroleague season starts next week, after all…