We know that ESPN.com NBA scout David Thorpe loves Joakim Noah (and here's the latest example), but here's some eye-opening comments from him on Tyrus Thomas in an interview with colleague Chad Ford (NBA Dish 1/29, track it down here, hattip to the RealGM boarders) as a follow up to this article on NBA sophomores.
Here's my only-slightly paraphrased transcription:
Thorpe: I think it's the most shocking, surprising story from the draft, besides maybe Bargnani's [struggles], is the fact that Tyrus Thomas is almost a non-factor. I'm watching games and video every night for hours, there aren't five guys in the league that have Tyrus Thomas' upside. And it's not even just his crazy athletic ability, and I'm up in Chicago and I've watched them practice in the Berto Center and in pregame, he's much more skilled than I realized. He puts the ball on the ground very easily, used to be a point guard in high school, they've improved his shot and it looks much better...so he's got a skill game, and like you said he's got that motor and energy. I watched him the other night against Phoenix, and even though he's sitting on the bench, when a teammate makes a great play he's up smiling and clapping and high-fiving guys. He's everything you'd want in a young player, and I literally can't figure out what's going on. I talked to some of the players on the team, there's no issues with him behind the scenes. He's just a regular guy who I think is just dying for a chance. And I wonder if maybe now before the trade deadline, Paxson's starting to realize that this kid...against Phoenix, in just a few minutes, I think 31 minutes, he had a double-double, and considering he's barely playing he's impressive. And I think that's the one guy, if we have this conversation next year about 3rd year players, I would not be surprised if Tyrus Thomas is amongst those top-3 or 4 players in that class.
Ford: Do you think he does that in Chicago or does he need a change of scenery?
Thorpe: Well, they've already changed one coach, so that probably will have an impact, and no one suggests that this current staff will be there next year. I know this: I can't imagine John Paxson is gonna want to trade a talent like Tyrus Thomas. It's going to have to take an incredible deal, because even though he hasn't done much, it's so obvious to someone that must watch this kid play every day, that he's got an amazing upside, and so I actually would be very surprised if they moved him. I wouldn't be surprised if they moved guys like Nocioni, or maybe even Joe Smith to open up playing time for him, that'd make more sense to me. And then a year from now, if you still feel like you've got enough guys, you've raised his value cause he's gotten more playing time...but to move him now, which strictly based on reputation, as he's not done much, you're really not going to get value for what he's worth, it'd be a bad move, I think.
Now this is all fantastic praise, but I should note that when we hear about the other side of Tyrus, most notably from sources speaking through Sam Smith or Boers&Bernstein, it's regarding issues in terms of work ethic and professionalism, things that, like us, Thorpe can't see.
But hearing such an evaluation of what's happening on the court makes me even care less about those 'issues', and gives more reason to be miffed at this organization's use of Tyrus. And at the very least, it should keep Bulls fans from throwing him into every conceived trade proposal. I can't speculate that Tyrus is blameless for not getting more playing time, but in his case I'm a huge fan of 'entitlement' minutes, as the work-ethic-all-stars aren't nearly as interesting in a lost season.