Team: Golden State Warriors
Position: Shooting guard
2011-2012 Per-Game Stats: 11.9 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 0.3 blocks, 0.7 steals
I'll be the first to admit that I did not see this late-season emergence from Klay Thompson coming. In fact, in the interest of full disclosure, I'm going to show you what I wrote prior to the start of the season when I predicted that Thompson would be the 35th-best rookie, falling just in between duds like Travis Leslie and E'Twaun Moore.
I have no idea how Klay Thompson is going to make it onto the court regularly unless the Golden State Warriors make a trade prior to the start of the season. After all, Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry have the starting guard spots on lockdown.
Thompson will probably serve as the backup shooting guard, but Ellis plays a whole lot of minutes on a nightly basis. In fact, his 40.3 minutes per game was tops in the league for a second straight season.
Klay Thompson is a sharp-shooting big guard with limited athleticism. In other words, he's the prototypical Warrior. And that right there is exactly why they shouldn't have drafted him.
Not exactly known for his defensive prowess, Thompson may not even get a chance to fully utilize his skills. There just aren't enough shots to go around in Golden State.
4.3 points, 1.1 assists, 0.8 rebounds per game
The problem with my prediction was that I couldn't foresee what would happen to the Warriors' backcourt. Hindsight being 20/20 and all, I probably should have guessed that Curry's ankles would let him down again and Ellis would finally be traded. But I didn't.
When both of those things happened, Thompson never looked back. In his 24 games played as a starter, the rookie has averaged 17.7 points, 3.1 rebounds and 3.0 assists per game.
Now, I'm not saying that Thompson isn't a good player. He is and I've never denied that. I just don't think he would be doing this well if the Warriors hadn't shut down every single player that is capable of scoring and placing the offensive load on Thompson's shoulders.
The fact that Mickell Gladness and Jeremy Tyler just started a game for them kind of proves my point.
If you don't recognize those names, I don't blame you.