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New OKC Thunder big man Etan Thomas provides more than muscle

Veteran center will lend advice to young big men Ibaka, Mullens, White Modified: October 25, 2009 at 9:33 am •  Published: October 25, 2009

photo - Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman.
Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman.
On a roster dominated by players in their early 20's, Etan Thomas can contribute more than blocks, rebounds and interior defense.


Having played in 373 games over seven seasons, including three playoff appearances, Thomas can pass along tips how to battle players like Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett and Dwight Howard.

“I was (recently) talking to Kevin Ollie and Nick (Collison) that this group is young and talented but they're great guys,” Thomas said. “This is an easy group to teach. Coach (Scott Brooks) is doing a great job. You just try to reinforce what he's teaching.

“This is a special group where everybody works hard. They listen. They come early. They stay late. You really don't see that on many teams top to bottom.”

Thomas, 31, said one of his roles will be to offer advice to young big men like Serge Ibaka, Byron Mullens and D.J. White. Ollie will work with the guards.

“You can lead by example or be a talker,” Thomas said. “I do a little bit of both. I'm more of a guy who might pull someone to the side and talk to them one-on-one. That's my method. A lot of times they learn just by watching.”

When healthy, Thomas can provide inside muscle the Thunder lacked last season.

“I like the fact he's been in the league a while and has been in playoff games,” Brooks said.

Ready: Thomas provides what the Thunder needs most — interior defense, blocked shots and rebounds. The former two-time Big East Defensive Player of the Year has averaged 1.1 blocks and 5.0 rebounds during seven NBA seasons.

A published poet, having written “More Than an Athlete,” Thomas also can provide invaluable experience for a young team.

... or not: 26. That's the number of games Etan Thomas has played the past two seasons.

The 31-year-old Tulsa Washington product could give the Thunder 15 to 20 minutes a game of interior defense but must prove he can stay healthy.

Thomas has played in 50 or more games only twice the past five seasons — 71 games in 2005-06 followed by 65 games in 2006-07 with the Wizards.


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