Cam Thomas’ development continues to be bright spot in disappointing Nets season

There are plenty of reasons to keep watching the Nets this season.

Zion Williamson proved that Tuesday night at Barclays Center, with his high-flying, alley-oop dunk in New Orleans’ lopsided victory over the home team.

The Nets’ show hits the road for four straight games, starting Thursday in Milwaukee, when fans can watch Giannis Antetokounmpo (who has been battling hamstring soreness) and Damian Lillard.

Then the Nets will go to Madison Square Garden to face Jalen Brunson and the Knicks.

Cam Thomas has been a bright spot during a dismal Nets season. Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

As for their own team, it figures to be a miserable final 3 ¹/₂ weeks until the Nets’ season mercifully ends.

Perhaps those still paying attention can focus on the potential development of Cam Thomas, who has improved his game this season and is one of the few players flourishing under new head coach Kevin Ollie.

In nine games played since Ollie took over last month for the fired Jacque Vaughn — all starts — Thomas has seen his production jump, as well as his playing time.

He’s scoring 23.3 points per game, and averaging 4.6 rebounds and 3.4 assists in 33.3 minutes in that nine-game stretch, compared to 21.2 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists in 29.7 minutes in 45 games (30 starts) under Vaughn.

And in his past six games since returning from an ankle injury, Thomas’ numbers are up even more, to 26.5 points per game, with more efficient shooting.

The latest example came Tuesday against the Pelicans, when Thomas had a team-high 25 points and 33:41 of playing time. He also had a team-worst minus-18.

It remains to be seen whether Thomas’ increased scoring is sustainable and if it can help the Nets win at some point.

Ollie pointed to the fact that Thomas is not a one-dimensional player as a reason that could be the case.

Cam Thomas continues to improve for the Nets. Robert Sabo for NY Post

“On the offensive end, he’s exceptional,’’ Ollie said. “But what I’ve started liking [and] what I’ve been impressed about, is his rebounding prowess as a guard and getting down there mucking it up a little bit and not shying away from contact.”

It’s the result, Thomas said, of work he’s done off the court.

“Definitely putting on more muscle, getting stronger,’’ Thomas said. “This [past] offseason has helped me, especially with the way teams are guarding me. I’m getting the best defender, most likely, every night. They’re playing physical, the guards are playing physical on me, and I’ve got to maneuver my way to get open at times, move off screens and stuff. It’s exhausting, for sure, but I’m definitely getting stronger and just growing into myself has really helped me.’’

As Thomas pointed out, though he’s in his third NBA season, he’s still just 22.

“It’s my first year really playing, actually figuring out how an NBA game actually works,’’ said Thomas, who called his playing time in his first two seasons “sporadic.”

“They say Year 3 [for me], but it’s really like my rookie season,’’ Thomas said. “Being a key player on the scouting report instead of, my first two years, I was probably popping up sporadically, surprising teams off-guard with my scoring outbursts.”

That was largely alongside Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, now both gone. And with Ben Simmons out for much of this season, there’s even more focus on Thomas.

“But this year, I see teams are more game-planning for me. When the game starts, I get the best defender,” Thomas said. “Just reading the defense, reading the film, and just seeing how I can attack different ways so I can be more efficient.’’

— Additional reporting by Jared Schwartz

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