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2022-23 Player Preview: JT Thor

The 20 year old was the first rookie to earn rotation minutes last season and will try to build off that in year two.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets-Media Day Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Charlotte Hornets drafted three rookies in the 2021 NBA Draft. JT Thor was the last of those three rookies selected, but he and fellow James Bouknight cracked the rotation at about the same time as the team dealt with a covid outbreak. He played 18.6 minutes per game in a five game stretch in first legitimate NBA action, averaging 4.4 points and 2.4 rebounds per game.

Thor has a pretty clearly defined NBA role. His best version is a 3 & D forward/big that can play anywhere from three through five. He moves his feet well and has tremendous length, meaning he can guard both on the perimeter and around the basket. We saw him block his fair of shots and also swiped a few steals. The biggest thing missing from his 3 & D skill set is the 3 part. Thor hit just 25.9% of his 3-point attempts last season, though his shot does look smooth and confident.

For JT Thor to get minutes this season, that 3-point jumper has to get better. You’d like to see him in the 30s so defenses have to respect the shot. He doesn’t look like he’ll ever be a creator offensively, so it’s imperative that he makes himself a threat as a finisher. He has less of a ways to go on the defensive end, where he just needs to iron out some positioning issues and play with a little more discipline when guarding the perimeter.

Thor has been the ninth man checking into the game in the preseason, though that is part of a rotation that is missing Cody Martin and Gordon Hayward. Neither plays Thor’s position per se, but Hayward will probably slide up to get some small ball four minutes, that would eat into potential playing time for Thor. But he’s on the fringes of the rotation, so we’ll probably see a fair amount of him this season.

Thor will probably strive to average six or seven points per game while trying to maintain or improve his stock (steal plus block) rate from the 2.6 per 36 minutes he had last season. You’d like to see his 3-point percentage climb into the 30s. If he can do that, he’ll be hard to keep buried on the bench given the Hornets’ need for plus defenders.