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King of the World: Jason Thompson Quietly Having a Breakout Season

Evan BruschiniCorrespondent INovember 20, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 12:  Jason Thompson #34 of the Sacramento Kings dunks against the Los Angeles Lakers on December 12, 2008 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  The Lakers won 112-103.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Any resident of central New Jersey has seen this show-and-dance before. In 2007, any visitor to the Bronc's Zoo could see Jason Carlton Thompson taking the big shots and and making the big plays. And now he's moved this program to the National Basketball Association.

Thompson recently had his streak of five double-doubles broken by scoring eight points and grabbing nine rebounds in a loss to the Chicago Bulls. Not coincidentally, the Kings went 4-1 over this streak to improve their overall record to 5-4.

When the Kings' leading scorer, Kevin Martin, went down with a wrist injury, Thompson instantly stepped up. He has become their second leading scorer, behind rookie point guard Tyreke Evans. He is their leading rebounder. He even ranks third in assists.

Even before the Kings took him twelfth overall, Thompson was a star at Rider. He was one of only three players to average 20 points and 10 rebounds in the 2007 season. The others were Kevin Durant and Nick Fazekas.

So will Thompson's career resemble the franchise player who makes All-Star teams and scoring titles? Or will he slip into mediocrity, like the forward who now plays for Jeanne d'Arc Dijon Bourgogne in the French Pro A league? Thinks are looking up for Thompson.

"We all just started to pick it up," Thompson said. "We have some good, young players on the team and we all just responded when (Martin) went out."

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Thompson currently ranks second in the entire league in offensive rebounding.

He currently has the goal of averaging a double-double. The way things are going, Thompson could be headed for his biggest stage yet: the NBA All-Star Game in Dallas.

"My goal is to make the All-Star Game and then eventually win a championship. That's what I'm really striving to do."

He also seems to be fitting in with new coach Paul Westphal's system.

"Coach (Westphal) likes it when I get the rebound and push it...He has confidence in me that I can get the rebound and push it and make plays and find other guys for threes and hit them a couple of times a game," says a confident Thompson.

On the night Thompson set a career high with 27 points in a win against Houston, little brother Ryan's Bronc's pulled off an upset of then No. 18 Mississippi State.

"What a night." Thompson said. "What a great win for Rider. Now they have to keep it going."

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