I am starting to buy in...
(Programming Note: If you're tired of rosterbation stories, scroll down to Ray's excellent Klay Thompson preview below. Drafting at #13 just might be the only that happens in the next 48 hours.)
OK, well that's that. Phoenix Suns' President Lon Babby has completely shut down the Gortat and Nash rumors. This is what I've been waiting to hear, and was surprised not to hear it yesterday in the press conference. Thanks Paul!
Does that mean the Suns' dealings are done? Likely no.
Does that mean the Suns are stuck in "playoff bubble" mode for the next 2-3 years? Likely yes.
I don't want Marcin Gortat or Steve Nash traded either. I love those guys, and finding quality replacements at C and PG is near-impossible. But we all have to admit that if you're not willing to trade fringe all-star talent for the promise of a better future, then you're stuck in no-man's land.
The Timberwolves are dangling a future star at the #2 spot in Derrick Williams. Sure, this draft is weak, but only 6 guys pulled out of the draft that were considered lottery talent. Even if you consider ALL six would be better than Williams, that's a #8 talent. The man is 6'9", 250 pounds, led his team to the
NCAA championship game Elite Eight, rebounds, blocks, runs the floor and shoots 3s with perfect, repeatable form. Oh and he's a great kid with great character.
Minnesota's problem is that they already have Kevin Love and Michael Beasley at his position. So they're trying to parlay this rare talent into a proven Center (or other veteran all-star-level big man). No harm there. Not working so far, though.
Minnesota's other problem is that they are a seive of information leaks. Every single thing they do, it hits twitter in milliseconds. And that's likely pissing off a LOT of people who would prefer their touchy stars not be bothered with maybes and could-bes. They've offered the #2 in exchange for at least Gasol, Bynum, Bogut, Gortat and Nash.
Hell, I've seen tweets from several multi-year-tweeting media types saying that Minny has offered the #2 to a dozen teams for their best players. So far, no bites. On Thursday night though? Who knows what will happen. LA, Phoenix and Milwaukee have already categorically shot down these rumors. But who else might pop up in the next day?
So, the Suns are NOT trading Gortat, Nash, Carter (releasing for 4 mill), Brooks or Hill (the latter two not signed for 2011). Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress contracts are too bad to trade as talent, and Gani Lawal, Garret Siler and Zabian Dowdell would only be half-mil salary fillers at best.
The Suns' tradeable assets now are:
1) Robin Lopez - young, 7'1", 260 lb C who played will in 2009-2010
2) Mikael Pietrus - expiring $5.3 mil
3) Jared Dudley - team player, cheap contract
4) #13 in 2011 draft
5) First-round pick in 2012 or 2013
6) $5.7 mill TPE (Amare)
7) $1.8 mil TPE (Clark)
And Coro even said the other day that the TPEs are unlikely to be used. Not the type of treasure-trove that nets a franchise player.
Don't be disappointed when the Suns only end up with a rookie at the #13 pick tomorrow. Best-case scenario seems to be to acquire another pick (with Lopez and/or Pietrus) so we have 2 rookies beg for playing time next season.
As we roll closer to Thursday evening's draft, trade rumors are swirling, we've seen mock draft after mock draft, and several prospects have grown fan clubs and hater clubs among the Bright Side community. Through it all, two basic truths remain.
Obviously, these two points are related. The Suns need a sharpshooting SG, and there happens to be one from right here on the west coast in Washington State's Klay Thompson, who has been called one of the best pure shooters in the draft.
Tale of the tape
The son of former NBA player Mychal Thompson, Klay Thompson didn't get a lot of national attention playing for a non-marquee WSU Cougars team, but he had an outstanding college career, making the Pac-10 All-Freshman team and then All Pac-10 First Team twice. His biggest strength is a pure, consistent, disciplined jump shot and he used it to deadly effect as a spot-up shooter at WSU. Teams focused their defense to shut down Thompson, as the Cougars didn't have many other threats, and he scored anyway due to his quick release and good length. We want a floor spacer? Oh yeah, he can do that.
He can also score on drives to the basket and off the dribble, despite the fact that his athleticism is nothing special. Watch here as he scores a Pac-10 Tournament record 43 points last March. Among others, he passed Reggie Miller for this honor. Because of his game and slight build, some have compared Thompson to Miller.
A perimeter player with good size and a superb shooting stroke is going to make it in the NBA, especially when the player has a high basketball IQ like Thompson does. However, he also has some obvious limitations. If you look at his height, weight and build, you see he's not particularly strong in the upper body and will struggle against more physical opposing SGs. His overall athleticism is only average, and it's doubtful his dribble penetration will be close to as effective in the NBA. Safe to say he'll be an effective NBA player as a spot-up shooter, but his ceiling is questionable.
Draft Express' summary:
Currently projected as a mid-first rounder, Thompson will likely have a chance to be drafted by a playoff-caliber team, where he could find early opportunities to be an offensive cog with his off-ball movement and spot shooting ability. Being equally capable from both mid and long range while not needing the ball in his hands to score, Thompson would fit well on a team with a balanced offense that also has the defenders to make up for his shortcomings. San Antonio, Denver, and Utah are three obvious examples, especially because they're all known for their history with spot-shooting wings, though he could also excel on an up-tempo team with a penchant for pushing the ball ahead for open shots.
In the interest of full disclosure, it should be mentioned that Thompson was cited for marijuana possession in March. Make as big a deal of it as you like. I choose not to make a big deal out of it at all, but it's out there. I would note that his spectacular performance in the Pac-10 tournament came less than a week after his arrest, so maybe it provided some sort of lesson for him.
Overall, I'd be fine with selecting Klay Thompson at #13. It's doubtful he'll ever be a star, but there is an outside chance he can be a Reggie Miller-type player. At the very least, superior shooting like Thompson demonstrates will always be of value in the NBA.
What do you think, Brightsiders?