The following contains elements of Draft Express's breakdown of Tristan Thompson in addition to my own thoughts and opinions. Although I'll do my best to educate you about the strengths and weaknesses of the former Longhorn, I still highly recommend checking out Draft Express yourself.
Tristan Thompson is probably the name that is most commonly linked to Phoenix in mock drafts. All the signs are pointing to the Suns drafting a big man, and Thompson could be the high-potential power forward the Suns desperately need. Hit the jump for a breakdown of his game.
Thompson is a high-motor player who scores many of his points on hustle plays. He's very quick and is an excellent offensive rebounder which leads to a lot of easy put-backs and close looks. But outside of his offensive rebounding prowess, he is extremely raw offensively. While watching some clips of him, I was reminded of a young Amar'e Stoudemire. Thompson does not have any sort of a developed back-to-the-basket game and often resorted to crazy fall-away shots if he couldn't get close enough to dunk it. He also is not a particularly gifted passer. However, he did show signs of becoming a good face-up player as the season rolled on, preferring to use his quickness to blow by his man and finish at the rim. You may be saying to yourself at this point, "A young Amar'e? Draft that kid!" But the problem in that he's not Amar'e. STAT is bigger, more explosive, and has a uniquely soft touch around the basket that I just don't see with Thompson. This lack of touch and his raw skillset really manifest themselves in his mid-range jumper, which is virtually non-existent. With his quickness, he could develop into a nice pick-and-roll finisher, and this might be one area on offense where he can contribute.
Where Thompson has a long way to go on offense, he is much more ready to contribute defensively. His quick feet and length mean he can be a real disruptive force in the paint. Although a bit under-sized, Thompson has a strong lower body and will hopefully be able to hold his own in the post. His game against Arizona's Derrick Williams, where he held the top pick to just 4-14 shooting, shows that he has what it takes to lock down the best of the best. DX suggests that he may even be able to stay with some small forwards, which is a testament to his defensive versatility. Considering how good the Texas big man is at cleaning up the offensive glass, it may surprise you to learn that his defensive rebounding fundamentals are not quite up to snuff. He is often caught out of position and can frequently be seen watching the ball rather than looking for a man to box out. This is an area he must improve, although with the effort he shows in the rest of his game this should be easily corrected.
Here's his interview with DX so you can judge this category for yourself. I will say this though: Earl Clark he is not.
Tristan Thompson Draft Combine Interview (via DraftExpress)
Oh, and he's Canadian.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
Tristan Thompson has a lot of potential, but he has a long way to go. He will likely be more ready to play right away than last year's draft pick Gani Lawal, and he could challenge Lawal and Hakim Warrick for the back-up PF spot as a rookie. But if he's taken, don't expect much more than Lou Amundson production.
If you don't believe me, here's DX's conclusion:
Thompson's potential, at this point at least, far outweighs his ability to contribute in the NBA and any team looking to draft him should be patient. It would be ideal for Thompson to develop alongside of a skilled center and a creative point guard, as his energy and athleticism are by far his most attractive attributes at this stage and he will likely struggle to create or produce on his own much initially. It is far more likely, however, that he will begin his career coming off of the bench and that playing time will depend on his energy level and defensive effectiveness.
I'm not sure how much of his potential Thompson will be able to realize, but judging by this paragraph Phoenix seems to be an excellent team for him to begin his career with. Marcin Gortat anchoring the middle means he can be free to move around off the ball, and Steve Nash will always get him the ball where he can be successful with it. While he's not my favorite prospect in this draft, I wouldn't mind if he's the pick at #13 (assuming players like Biyombo, etc. are already gone).
So what do you think my fellow Bright-Siders?