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.
- The Suns haven't replaced Jason Richardson yet, and he was the team's leading scorer when he was traded in December.
- We can talk all about the needs for improved size, defense and rebounding. Those are real needs, and must be addressed. But for the Suns to get back to the playoffs in the Nash era, they'll have to get back to being one of the best offenses in the NBA.
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
- College: Washington State, played 3 years of college basketball.
- Age: 21
- Height/Weight: 6'7", 206 lbs
- 2010/2011 stats: 21.6 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 3.7 APG on 46.6% 2 ptrs and 38.8% 3 ptrs
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?