Jan 30, 2023; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets guards Kyrie Irving (11) and Cam Thomas (24) celebrate during the fourth quarter against the Los Angeles Lakers at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

On a Brooklyn Nets team featuring the star power of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and Ben Simmons, second-year forward Cam Thomas has remained patient and stayed confident in what he “can do on the court.” And when he has received playing time, he has produced.

Injuries to Durant and Simmons have led to increased minutes for the 21-year-old Thomas, who has taken advantage of the opportunity to show off the skills that made him the 27th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.

Thomas has played in six of Brooklyn’s last eight contests, averaging 9.7 points off the bench and shooting 51.1% from the field and 38.5% on 3-pointers in 14.6 minutes per game. His 23.8 points per 36 minutes during that stretch rank second on the team behind Irving’s 32.0. On Monday, Thomas scored 21 points off the bench in the Nets’ 121-104 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Thomas, an alum of the prestigious Oak Hill Academy High School in Mouth of Wilson, Virginia, recently sat down with Bally Sports to discuss a wide range of topics, including his sense of humor, his taste in music and his childhood idol — Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.

The internet says you don’t smile. What keeps you smiling on the court?

My family. Myself. My teammates of course. They’re funny. So, myself, my teammates and my family.

Who are some of your favorite comedians?

Chris Tucker is hilarious in the (“Rush Hour” movies). He’s in my favorites. “The Boondocks” is hilarious. And that’s it, really.

The Nets have a deep roster. What keeps you going when you’re sometimes not getting playing time?

I know who I am, and I know what I can do on the court, you know? I just keep working all the time and stay confident, you know? My opportunity will come around … and when that comes, I’ll be ready for it. So just staying confident and staying ready for it.

Who were some of your favorite NBA players that you grew up watching?

Grew up watching? Kobe. Of course you have other guys that you like to watch, but as far as admiring and wanting to be like, taking things from … Kobe.

Are there any specific Kobe games that you remember fondly?

All of ‘em really. I watched all of his videos and his games on YouTube, and I was a diehard Lakers fan growing up because of him obviously. Everything Lakers, I was that. I’m a big Kobe guy.

What type of music gets you going in games? What gets you hyped?

Music? NBA YoungBoy. That’s it. That’s all I listen to, rightfully so.

How has Nets head coach Jacque Vaughn been inspirational to you and the rest of the team?

He’s been inspirational to the team just by keeping the guys hungry and keeping their energy up, and as you can see, the guys play real hard every game that they’re in. We might be down, but they’re going to fight back. He’s very instrumental in that and very inspiring to me.

What song would describe the season to date?

What has been the biggest trend that you’ve noticed across the league this season?

Just the competitiveness. A lot of teams will have the chance to make the playoffs this year. As in recent years, a lot of the teams have decent records and have a play-in shot or be at the top of their conference. So, really, it’s how competitive the league has been this year, and that’s really good for the league.

The Nets have the balance of veterans and youth. Are there any other teams that have that parity like the Nets?

Oh yeah. A lot of teams have a lot of young guys — OKC is playing their young guys and they’re (in contention for a play-in berth). That’s really big. Houston is another team that’s relying on the young guys and building for the future, but OKC is the team that stands out because they’re playing really well. And they’re playing at a high level for such a young team, so that’s big.

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