Here are three things we know about Klay Thompson: 1) He can shoot, 2) His dad, Mychal Thompson, played 12 years in the league, winning two championships with the Lakers, and 3) He likes marijuana. Sound good? Great. Welcome aboard, Klay.Wait, we need more information in order to make a well informed, multi-million dollar decision? Okay how about this. Last year, playing in a league that boasted probable No. 2 overall pick Derrick Williams, Thompson averaged more points a game (21.6) than anybody else. In fact, Thompson boasts the third highest career scoring average in league history; more than Brandon Roy, Arron Afflalo, and Brian Scalabrine (!). Last year he shot 40 percent (on over seven attempts a game) which, when translated to New York Knicks language, means Mack Truck driving lanes for Carmelo Anthony. His shot is a silky garment of beauty, like a young Ray Allen’s, and it’s always nice to watch opposing fans wince each time someone on your team lets one fly.
Why don’t people know more about him? Well for starters college basketball wasn’t exactly must see TV this year. Secondly he played on the west coast for a team that failed to make the NCAA tournament, all but cutting out any possibility of achieving any real recognition. Scoring is super great, and always useful, but unless Thompson grows four inches and gains 50 pounds in two weeks (by the way, extremely unhealthy) he can’t help strengthen the Knicks two most glaring weaknesses: rebounding and interior defense. The Knicks have the superstars capable of winning a championship, now they need to be supported by big, beefy guys. Nothing against Thompson; he’s an athletic player whose ability to shoot should keep him around the NBA for a long time, but I just don’t feel comfortable with a team so close, so talented, drafting for skill over need. A torturous, constant replay of Jared Jeffries serving as the team’s only capable offensive rebounder still keeps me up at night. Until the Knicks find a proficient answer to the problem, the nightmare will continue.
Despite this being a unanimous fact, Klay’s name appears next to “17. New York Knicks” on more than one respectable mock draft. Why? Do people really think Jerome Jordan is the be all end all solution? Ronny Turiaf? How about throwing $800 million dollars at Tyson Chandler or Marc Gasol? All those are impossible to the point where if you uttered them in public there’s a slight chance you’d be formally committed. Thompson’s having great workouts and soaring up draft boards (SB Nation’s Tom Ziller bumped him all the way up to No. 10 today due to New York’s heavy interest). By all accounts, there’s nothing wrong with the guy, and whoever grabs him should be more than thrilled. I’m not even saying he wouldn’t fit in on the Knicks next season, it’s just that they can do better.
One more reason I don’t like Thompson for New York: He’s too similar to Landry Fields, right down to their Pac-10 roots. Having two players who share the exact same traits is a waste of both time and money; if you want to take him with the 17th overall pick then Fields has to go. Despite Landry’s slump towards the end of last year which extended into the playoffs, I’m not sure that’s a smart move. Fields can rebound, showed potential on the defensive end, and has proven he can play at the professional level. It seems the team would be backtracking while also paying more, since Fields is still on his rookie contract—Thompson’s contract would be that of a first round pick, and could be twice as expensive. If the Knicks decide they like the Cougar more than the Cardinal, so be it. It’s not my money. But they better have a plan to compete on the boards, or each time Klay Thompson misfires on a three you can count on the opposing team grabbing the rebound. Then it’s off to the races all over again.