RTC NBA Draft Profiles: Klay ThompsonPosted by rtmsf on May 24th, 2011
Over the course of the next month until the NBA Draft on June 23, RTC will be rolling out comprehensive profiles of the 35 collegians we feel have the best chance to hear their names called by David Stern in the first round that night. There won’t be any particular order to the list, but you can scroll back through all the finished profiles by clicking here.
Player Name: Klay Thompson
School: Washington State
Height/Weight: 6’6, 206 lbs.
NBA Position: Shooting Guard
Projected Draft Range: Mid to Late First Round
Overview: Klay Thompson is on the very short list of contenders for the title of best pure shooter in the draft. After shooting 41% from three and 42% from the field as a freshman, Thompson saw his averages dip a bit as a sophomore mostly as a result of a significantly increased role in the Cougar offense, as by last year he used 32% of his team’s possessions (good for 15th in the nation). Thompson led the Cougs in scoring in his final two seasons on the Paloose, and despite leaving a year of eligibility on the table, he comes to the draft as a pretty complete offensive player, with an NBA-ready game and a history of improving every year. As a freshman, he was more or less “just a shooter,” but he has since added a deft mid-range game, has become very comfortable with the ball in his hands, and has shown a crafty ability to get to the line, shooting 185 free throws as a junior, a drastic jump from the mere 31 he attempted from the line as a freshman in nearly as many minutes. Thompson is average at best athletically, and as a result does not project to be a great defender, but his 1.6 steals per game as a junior indicate that he is active enough to contribute defensively. He did get dinged with a possession of marijuana charge at the end of last year that raised some eyebrows, but that is generally just regarded as a minor blip for a good character kid.
Will Translate to the NBA: When you can stroke it from deep like Thompson can, you’ve got a spot in the NBA. At 6’6, Thompson has the length to be able to get off his shot with ease, and is just good enough off the bounce and on the move to keep defenders honest and earn him clean looks from three. Thompson shot 39% from three in his career at WSU, and given that he was almost always the focal point of the opposition’s defense, that’s a mighty impressive number.
Needs Work: The biggest hole in Thompson’s game is his average athleticism. He’s not a bad athlete by any means, but he figures to have a hard time guarding the NBA’s elite athletes at the two-guard spot. He had 100 steals in his final two seasons in Pullman, showing that he’s a hard-working and smart defender, but he’s got his work cut out for him in becoming an NBA-caliber stopper.
Comparison Players: Mike Miller is a career 40% three-point shooter who, in his prime with Memphis, contributed in a lot of other ways. While it would be a surprise if Thompson ever averaged 18.5 PPG as Miller once did, Thompson is capable of playing the role of the spot-up shooter with the ability to score a bit off the dribble, to rebound well for his position, and to make the extra pass to set up his teammates. And, like Miller, he’ll struggle at times when he’s got to try to check the best of lightning quick and insanely bouncy NBA off-guards.
Best Case Scenario: Can’t you just see Thompson averaging 12 points a game and knocking down 40% of his threes for a dozen years or so? Given how comfortable and effective he is with the ball in his hands, maybe some team that is lacking a great true point even runs their offense through him for a couple of seasons. He’d have to catch lightning in a bottle to ever be an all-star caliber player, but Thompson could be a consistent NBA starter, or even a dose of instant-offense as a scorer off the bench.
2014 Projection: After struggling to get playing time early in his career due to his defensive deficiencies, by his third season Thompson has earned a regular spot in a rotation, playing 20-plus minutes per game, knocking down jumpers and earning fans in front offices around the Association for his smart and versatile game.
Best NBA Fit: The Knicks, picking 17th in the first round, would be a nice soft landing spot for Thompson. He would immediately be the best spot-up shooter on that team, and could earn minutes from the start in Mike D’Antoni’s offense, hanging out in the corner and drilling jumpers on kick outs from Chauncey Billups or Carmelo Anthony. Unfortunately for Knicks fans, he wouldn’t do a whole lot to improve their questionable defense.
Scout’s Take (Chris Denker from Netscouts Basketball): “great stroke… NBA bloodline… but his money will come from shooting the ball… he has streaky moments, but I see him more of a JJ Redick type than a Ray Allen at the next level.”