Nets guard Cam Thomas (24) tries to work the ball...

Nets guard Cam Thomas (24) tries to work the ball inside as New York Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game in New York, Saturday, March 23, 2024. Credit: AP/Peter K. Afriyie

WASHINGTON — Cam Thomas had nine family members at Capital One Arena Wednesday. They witnessed another fun homecoming for someone who went to high school in nearby Virginia.

Thomas’ 38 points matched the Wizards’ Jordan Poole’s total and Poole had eight assists, one more than Thomas. Thomas, however, left with a Nets win and another sign of maturing as more than a gifted scorer.

“Obviously I’ve grown as a passer because I’m playing more,” Thomas said. “If anybody doesn't really play much and then get in a few spurts, let’s be real, nobody’s looking to pass. When they first get in, they’re looking to get some buckets.

“This year, just getting the reps, playing, reading different coverages teams are throwing at me. Just reading it in that aspect and just knowing that I’m going to be playing honestly.”

After being in and out of the rotation his first two seasons, Thomas has started 42 of 57 games this season. General manager Sean Marks said at the trade deadline that he considers him part of the Nets’ future.

But what will that mean this summer with Thomas eligible to sign an extension? He’s proved he's a scorer, but has he proven enough in other areas to remain part of the Nets’ future core.

Five of Thomas’ 11 games with at least five assists have come after the All-Star break. Since then, he’s also had six games with at least five rebounds.

Interim coach Kevin Ollie has trusted him with more minutes at point guard. It’s a challenge Thomas has accepted.

“I’m only 22. I’m still figuring it out on the fly,” Thomas said. “I’m still learning only in year three, still learning the nuances of different coverages teams are throwing at me. How to attack certain stuff.”

Thomas long carried questions about his game. Can he bring more to the table besides scoring? Does his shot-making lead to winning? Is he better suited as a high-scoring sixth man or a long-term starter?

He’s tried to answer that this season. Thomas’ 165 assists are more than his first two years combined and it’s come as he’s doubled his scoring average (21.8 points) from last season (10.6).

The Nets’ first priority this offseason will be to re-sign center Nic Claxton. Should Thomas sign an extension, it won’t kick in until 2025-26 so it won’t affect the team’s goals of staying under the luxury tax next season.

It’s also a gamble since the Nets could be stuck chasing the play-in tournament again next year. Thomas could also be attractive as trade bait to help improve things.

But Wednesday showed he’s raising his value as a better all-around player. Time will tell if it's sustainable but if so, it provides a better — and perhaps more lucrative — path for Thomas.

“It’s just nice watching him grow, man,” said Claxton, his teammate the past three seasons. “He’s seen a lot especially this year with the way teams have been guarding him and he’s really responded well to that."

More Brooklyn Nets

Newsday LogoSUBSCRIBEUnlimited Digital AccessOnly 25¢for 5 months