ClipperBlog is running a series called “Summer Reading” – tidbits, advice and (ideally) reading material for each member of the Los Angeles Clippers. The hope being that players return next season armed with newfound knowledge, improvements to their skills and emboldened by their summer studies. Because knowing is half the battle.
Reading Material: The Stretching Handbook, by Brad Walker.
The Clippers need some stretch, and they need it bad.
Reggie Evans can rebound with the best of ‘em, but he’s certainly never had it. Kenyon Martin was invaluable, particularly in the playoffs, but he’s not one you want taking jumpers on a regular basis, either. And, even if Blake Griffin continues to develop the stroke, it would be nice if they had a big off the bench to spread the floor — and maybe even knock down a free throw here and there.
It is entirely possible that Thompkins is that guy.
Neil Olshey was high on the 6’10″ 2nd-rounder he drafted last year, but it remains to be seen how or if Vinny Del Negro plans to use him. He only made it into 24 games as a rookie, but there are reasons to be optimistic.
In three years at Georgia, where he was regarded as a top NBA prospect, he averaged just about 16 points and eight rebounds a game. He shot 47% from the field, 36% from three and 73% from the free throw line. Simply put, he can score.
The Clippers need a big off the bench capable of operating at the top of the key, playing pick-and-pop, spacing the floor and facilitating ball movement. Our knowledge is somewhat limited because we haven’t seen much of him in the NBA, but his DraftExpress scouting report said that “he is not a great athlete, but he has potential as an inside-outside scorer and is one of the more assertive ball-handlers in this group.” And it should be noted that after measuring 15% body fat before the draft, many in the industry noticed significant body improvement within a few months.
The utility of the stretch big is still being explored across the league, but some recent success stories have begun to create a blueprint. Like Thompkins, guys like Ryan Anderson (21st), Al Harrington (25th) and Rashard Lewis (32nd) fell in the draft due, at least in part, to questions about position. After struggling initially for playing time, all three forged important roles out of spreading the floor and knocking down shots.
The fine analytical site Hickory High produces similarity scores for draft prospects based on a wide array of statistical measures, and judging by that, Thompkins fits right in that group.
If he’s going to have the same success, he’ll have to see the floor first. It will be one of the first tests for a reshuffled front office/coaching staff that must rely, at least in part, on player development to fill some of the many roster holes with limited cap flexibility.
At least in theory, he fits the profile. And for the low price of $762,195, it might be worth the Clippers’ while to at least consider promoting from within.