The reason Cam Thomas couldn’t crack Nets’ starting lineup vs. Bucks, per Jacque Vaughn

Brooklyn Nets guard Cam Thomas appeared destined to step into an expanded role after becoming the youngest player in NBA history to score 40-plus points in three consecutive games last month. 10 games into the new-look era, he’s trending in the opposite direction.

The sophomore played just seven minutes in each of Brooklyn’s wins over Boston and Charlotte last week before logging a DNP-CD Tuesday in Houston. Head coach Jacque Vaughn has leaned into Seth Curry over Thomas at point guard behind Spencer Dinwiddie, a move that has drawn questions given the former’s advanced age and expiring contract amid the Nets’ reset timeline.

Brooklyn sat Dinwiddie, along with Cam Johnson and Nic Claxton, for the front end of a back-to-back Thursday at Milwaukee. Despite the slew of absences, Thomas did not crack the starting lineup with Curry and Joe Harris instead getting the nod. And Vaughn offered his reasoning for the decision pregame:

“It just puts Cam in a position if he were to start where he’s gonna guard a starter. Whether that’s Middleton, whether that’s Holiday, it just makes it tough,” the coach said. “I love the fact that when he comes in the game as a second-year player he’s hopefully playing against backups. Because then at the same time, he can take advantage of some matchups playing against those backups.

So that’s kinda how my thought process is. At the same time, he could play more minutes than Seth tonight. I’m always trying to protect him and get him in positions where he can have success.”

Vaughn’s explanation will do little to ease questions surrounding Thomas’ minutes given Curry and Harris’ glaring defensive struggles this season. The head coach referenced Brookyln’s desire to “create an atmosphere where everyone can be a participant” when opening up on the 21-year-old’s role following the trade deadline.

Thomas averaged 23.6 minutes during Brooklyn’s first seven games with the new-look roster before seeing his playing time cut over the last week. He posted 14.4 points per game on 41.3 percent shooting from the field and 34.8 percent from three during that span.

Brooklyn will travel to Minnesota Friday to complete the back-to-back before closing out a five-game road trip with stops in Denver and Oklahoma City.

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