When Jason Thompson‘s name was announced at the 2008 NBA Draft, there was a relative hush in the Kingdom. Between the silence and gasps, a mass collection of “who” rang out from King fans across the country watching the draft. While more popular names at the time like LSU’s Anthony Randolph, Georgetown’s Roy Hibbert or Stanford’s Robin Lopez still sat available to the Kings, it was an unknown out of Rider who would be the newest member of the purple and black. A few years later, it’s hard to fault the choice as most of the desired names have been severely out-performed by Thompson, who has continued to improve yearly. Now entering his fifth season after signing a long-term deal with the Kings in the offseason, the Kingdom is expecting big things out of the Mount Laurel native. What’s in store? Read on to find out…
Scott – Arguably the Kings most improved player last year, Thompson was rewarded with a contract extension that will keep him in Sac for the near future. The athletic big man formed a nice partnership with DeMarcus Cousins. Thompson contributed across the board with a reliable jumper, vastly improved interior play, above average defense and tough rebounding. He should start in 2013, but his time in the lineup will depend on Thomas Robinson’s development and his own continued progression. Either way, Thompson slots in as a strong rotation player for the Kings.
Marilyn – Jason Thompson was Geoff Petrie’s surprise 12th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft, out of the lesser known Rider University. Jason came into the league wanting to be a “double-double” player. He ran afoul with foul trouble his first two seasons, averaging 3.8 and 3.7 personal fouls per game. He seemed to feel the officials were picking on him, not seeing that he was the problem. This has changed. Jason has seen a marked decrease in his personal fouls and handles those he does make in a more mature manner. At the beginning of last season he showed up in excellent physical condition, a tribute to his hard work and dedication. On most teams, Jason would not be a starter. This could change this season, with the addition of Thomas Robinson. While Jason is expected to retain the starting position for now, Thomas Robinson will likely take that spot from him at some point in the season. Either way, I think we can expect Jason to put the same hard work into his game, whether he starts or whether he comes off the bench. This should be a good season for him, capitalizing on the growth he showed last season.
Bryan – It’s not very often that you see a player grow after being regulated to bench duty after being a starter, but that’s exactly what Jason Thompson did last year. Thompson was essentially the Kings most efficient and reliable talent all season, playing a huge role as the Kings top big off the bench when he didn’t start. When he did start (which was often given Chuck Hayes‘ lingering injury) Thompson was just as effective – putting up an impressive 3.9 win share (3.1 offensive, 0.9 defensive). Thompson also seemed to grow as the season progressed, playing his best basketball post All-Star break as he averaged 10 points and nearly 8 boards a game on 55% from the field in just 28 minutes. Unlike last year though, where Thompson was the first big off the bench (and started 47 of 64 games) with little competition, a healthy Chuck Hayes and potential Rookie of the Year candidate in Thomas Robinson will eat into some of those minutes – meaning Thompson must maintain his high level of efficiency. It’s yet to be seen if Hayes or Thompson will play the majority of backup minutes at center (I’ve long said Thompson is a better C than PF) but either way, even with the additions – there will still be plenty of floor time for JT who should continue to grow and improve. While far from flashy, expect another underrated season from the Kings’ fifth year big.