Klay Thompson can shoot. His stroke is pure.
In a draft where everyone has serious question marks, if you can consistently put the ball in the hole the thing you do well is something every team needs. Thompson caught scouts eyes as a shooter as he filled it up in college — Washington State ran him off screens all day long — and he knocked it down at a 39.8 percent pace from three (and that was with defenses targeting him).
Then he went to the NBA Draft Combine and looked like the best shooter according to reports. Then everywhere he has gone for workouts he has impressed with his touch from deep — to the point Knicks president Donnie Walsh (formerly of the Pacers) threw around the Reggie Miller comparison.
Thompson has a long way to go to get anywhere near Miller, but it gives you an idea of what scouts think about his shooting. He gets raves.
Like everyone else in this draft, Thompson — the son of former No. 1 overall pick and Showtime era Laker Mychal Thompson — still has questions to answer in the pros.
He is not an explosive athlete — he’s not a guy who is going to create his own shot at the next level. Yes, some guys in the NBA get around that but it’s much harder on the wing (as a two or three) where the NBA’s best athletes play. He is 6’7” and shoots with a high release so he doesn’t need much space, but he isn’t going to create much of it himself at the next level (if a guy is running out on his at the arc he can put it on the floor to get around him, but he doesn’t have the ball handling to get to the rim and doesn’t finish great there anyway).
The bigger concern is defense — he wasn’t great at that in college, his lateral movement is average at best and, again, on the wings in the NBA he will be matched up against ridiculously good athletes. Could he be a guy who scores but costs you as many points at the other end?
One thing you don’t hear mentioned a whole lot is the marijuana possession arrest and him having to leave the Cougars team. NBA teams may have concerns, but they seem to see that as a blip not a pattern.
There are questions. But there are things we know — he knows how to get open off screens and he knows how to soot the rock.
If you’re going to take a gamble, you take a gamble on a guy who you know can put the ball in the hole.
Thompson has been steadily moving up the board over the past couple months. Our man Steve Alexander at NBC’s Rotoworld has him going at No. 15 to the Pacers (where the Reggie Miller comparisons would never end). But that is about the farthest he will fall (sorry Knicks fans). DraftExpress has him going No. 14 the Rockets, while ESPN’s Chad Ford has him going No. 10 to the Bucks (a team that could use some offense).
If there was one guy in that range teams might trade up to get it would be Thompson — sometimes GMs fall in love with a shooter. Something to watch.