When Washington State junior Klay Thompson decided that his playing days in Pullman had come to an early close this past spring, the decision seemed to come with some hesitation attached. Leaving school early is a difficult decision for any prospect to make, much less for those balling on Pacific Time in front of far fewer national eyeballs than their East Coast brethren. For anyone who was able to catch the 6-7 guard burn up the Pac-10 nets the past three seasons though, it was anything but surprising. And as he looks to make the jump to the pros this June, Thompson is asserting himself as the top shooting guard in a class eager to prove its collective worth.
Apparently Thompson’s also been making his mark known this past week in Chicago at the 2011 NBA Draft Combine. Just yesterday, ESPN’s Chad Ford wrote that Klay “…had one of the most impressive weeks in Chicago. There were a number of great shooters in the combine this weekend, but Thompson had the best shooting performance of any of the prospects on both days.”
During each of his three seasons on campus, Thompson has steadily improved his performance every year. As a sophomore, he averaged 19.6 points, 5.1 boards and 2.3 assists a game. While this season, with opposing defensive schemes aimed solely at shutting him down from the field, Thompson exploded for 21.6, 5.2 and 3.7 a game while leading WSU to six more team wins than the year prior.
The dude can flat out light it up and is about as mechanically money as you can get for a shooter. He’s got as smooth a shot as anyone in the college game, and more importantly, plays intelligently. If having been born into an NBA pedigree wasn’t already an indication â€“ his father, Mychal Thompson, was a former No. 1 overall pick of Portland in 1978 â€“ the younger Thompson runs the court with an extremely high basketball IQ. And yeah, he’s a deadly spot up slinger, but Thompson’s long frame and dribbling skills also allow him to create space and get to the basket.
The Lottery as it stands now has more than a few teams that could benefit from Thompson’s services. The Bobcats (No. 9), Jazz (No. 12) and Suns (No. 13) all have needs for an additional scorer at the guard position, and in particular, envisioning Thompson running the floor alongside Steve Nash and Aaron Brooks could bode very well for Phoenix. As Vince Carter prepares to enter his 14th season in the L and Jared Dudley finally coming into his own, Thompson would provide another shooter’s presence for the future. That being said, he could fit into a variety of NBA systems, while the Suns could also look to improve their size on the frontline.
As we inch closer to the NBA Draft, it’s unsure where Thompson’s predicted selection might be, which is the beauty of it still being a month away – plenty of time to stew on the details. He’s got plenty of competition at the position, but in a League always thirsty for pure shooters, Thompson is a find. And along with him, Alec Burks, Jimmer Fredette, Marshon Brooks and even Dime Draft Diary keeper Isaiah Thomas are among those atop the rest of the shooting/scoring guard heap looking to make noise.
What do you think? Where would you draft Thompson?
Follow Jack on Twitter at @jensenjack.
Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.
Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.