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Detroit Pistons Draft Dreams: Tristan Thompson

Last season, with the Pistons picking seventh overall, most experts believed the Pistons would end up with North Carolina’s Ed Davis, a solid but decidedly unsexy pick. We of course know that instead, fate (and the braintrust of the Golden State Warriors) intervened and allowed Greg Monroe to fall to that seven spot. This season, with the Pistons picking eighth, a consensus seems to be building that the team will end up with Tristan Thompson, a fine player out of Texas but, like Davis, not a particularly well-known one. We’ll see if it actually plays out that way, but we might as well take a look at Thompson with his name so heavily associated with Detroit over the last week.

Info

Measurables: 6-foot-9, 225 pounds, freshman F from Texas

Key stats: 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.4 blocks per game while shooting 55 percent

Projected: Lottery

How would he help the Pistons?

Thompson is one of a handful of lottery-level frontcourt players who would compliment Monroe simply because of athleticism. As we saw with Monroe last season, he’s a crafty player with quick hands, but he’s not a leaper or shot-blocker and he doesn’t have a lot of lateral quickness on defense. Finding a player who can jump, protect the rim, run the floor and finish would add a much-needed dimension to the Pistons. Thompson has a long wingspan, which allows him to block shots despite being a bit undersized (he measured just under 6-foot-9 at the combine). The fact that he’s left-handed like Monroe would also make the Pistons potential starting frontcourt a unique matchup problem if both Thompson and Monroe developed as post players on offense.

Thompson isn’t the most refined player on offense, but the good part about his game is he doesn’t try to do too much. He doesn’t over-dribble, he has an extremely quick first-step and he typically just makes a quick, decisive move and uses that explosion to get to the basket. Thompson is really active without the ball on offense, and as we saw last season with the Monroe and Chris Wilcox combo, Monroe frequently found the active Wilcox cutting to the basket. Adding Thompson and a healthy Jonas Jerebko around Monroe next year should ensure that the Pistons’ cutters are always being found for easy shots.

How wouldn’t he help the Pistons?

Along with his height, Thompson has some definite areas to improve. He has very little range as most of his points come right around the basket. In fact, he might not even have range out to the free throw line. He only shot about 49 percent there for the season. He’s also too light for the NBA paint and needs to add some bulk, which would help him back down opponents easier and not have to rely solely on trying to explode past everyone.

What are others saying?

From DraftExpress:

His ability to move without the ball, in particular, is promising to his early NBA prospects, as he will not likely have many plays run for him until he develops further. He is most effective cutting to the basket and finishing off of dump passes and lobs at this point. Texas rarely utilized him in the pick-and-roll, but he looked very solid in limited possessions where he showcased his quickness and mobility—something that could become a staple of his game in the NBA.

From ESPN:

Another year at Texas would really help his game. But his draft stock? I don’t think it will ever be higher. Teams are looking for tough, athletic, versatile forwards. Thompson’s work on the offensive boards alone should get him into the lottery. Right now, folks are willing to overlook the flaws in his game. If the flaws persisted over another year at Texas, I’m not sure they’d do it again.

From NBADraft.net:

He has an extremely quick second jump, and he is able to time his attack and get his hands on a high percentage of missed shots … His length also posses problems on the defensive end, as he is able to recover quickly or slide over from the weakside to block and contest shots around the basket

Hickory High’s Similarity Scores

Here’s a breakdown of how Ian Levy from Hickory High came up with his similarity scores.

Previously

16 Comments

  • May 23, 201111:56 am
    by neutes

    Reply

    Ok so I’ve been trying to learn about this guy in the event he’s the pick. I’ve come to the conclusion he’s pretty much a poor man’s Ed Davis. And in case nobody was paying attention down the stretch, Ed Davis is a pretty good player. In fact I’d put him 3rd among rookies drafted last season. I see a lot of similarities in Thompson, but Davis is a tad taller and a better rebounder. So this supposedly weak draft is going to produce a player slightly less talented than Davis at about the same projected slot.

    • May 23, 201112:02 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      Yeah, I think Davis is a decent comparison. Davis is the better rebounder, Thompson the better shot blocker (he had 11 blocks in two tourney games). Both guys have to develop some on offense.

      And I’ve never bought into the whole “weak draft” meme. It’s a draft that is weak in the sense that there’s only one or two elite, franchise-player type talents (Irving is the only one with that kind of potential, IMO), but there is a surprising amount of depth with guys who could be useful rotation players.

      • May 23, 201110:54 pm
        by gmehl1977

        Reply

        Agreed. They also said last years draft was weak and the one before that if i remember correctly. I guess some people feel unless you have at least 6 to 10 legit future all stars come out then it must be a weak draft.

  • May 23, 201112:26 pm
    by sop

    Reply

    Davis measured at 6’8″ at the Chicago Combine, not 6’9″. He has sizable wingspan which makes up for some of it, but he’s smaller than Derrick Williams by every measurement. He’s a small PF who plays like a Center. I watched him quite a bit this season and he was frequently pushed around by larger players. Also a few scouts have said he looks spastic and lacks any semblance of fluidity in his movements. It’s going to be rough transition to the NBA for him.

    • May 23, 201112:28 pm
      by sop

      Reply

      ooops I mean Thompson not Davis.

    • May 23, 201112:30 pm
      by Patrick Hayes

      Reply

      He measured 6-foot-8.75 inches. That’s close enough to 6-9 for my purposes.

  • May 23, 201112:51 pm
    by tarsier

    Reply

    Last year, the speculation on Ed Davis made sense. He was arguably the 7th best prospect in the draft. This year, there are definitely more than 8 better prospects than Thompson. The only reason the Thompson speculation makes any sense is that our best idea of what Dumars is thinking come from Langlois. And everything Langlois says appears to indicate that the Pistons are dead set on grabbing a big man.
    Come on, sure, the Pistons are weak up front, but no weaker than at any other position. I really hate this big man obsession.

    • May 23, 20111:52 pm
      by neutes

      Reply

      Dumars via Langlois has said they would like to add a big man, but they would take the best player there. I believe they’d prefer it that the best player there be a big man, and so would I.
       
      I’m not certain there are 8 better prospects than Thompson. There are players I’d rather have than Thompson, but I’m not certain that any of those players will be better than Thompson.

      • May 23, 20117:05 pm
        by tarsier

        Reply

        Well he says that if a non-big were clearly the better prospect, they’d go for a non-big. Let’s face it, most of the time prospects aren’t clearly better than each other. There is a lot of guesswork. But some seem like they are probably better. And according to what Langlois says, it appears that he thinks that the Pistons would look for the best of Thompson/Morris/Montejunas if Knight, Walker, and Leonard were still available. He gives the example of 6 of the first 7 picks potentially being Irving, Williams, Kanter, Valanciunas, Vesely (who he for some reasons regards as a big), and Biyombo. And he says that at that point, the Pistons would probably look at the next tier of bigs.
        So yeah, by all indications, a player has to be blow-you-out-of the-water better than the best big left to be drafted by the Pistons ahead of a big.
        And of course, none of us are certain that other players will be better than Thompson. But we can still be certain that they are better prospects.

  • May 23, 201112:57 pm
    by sop

    Reply

    Chicago Combine’s big risers:
    1. Nikola Vucevic
    2. Marshon Brooks
    3. Jeremy Tyler
    any of these three look like great picks at 33 for the Pistons

  • May 23, 20112:04 pm
    by sop

    Reply

    It’s also worth mentioning that although Thompson is a one-and-done Freshman, he’s already 20 years old.

  • May 23, 20113:13 pm
    by rob

    Reply

    Thompson sucks, he looks like the next Amir Johnson, no offense, average rebounder, above average shot-blocker, and 220 lbs so he will be a defensive liability in the post in the NBA.

    Terrible pick at 8, I wouldnt even take him at 33.

    If athleticism is the only trait needed to compliment Monroe now, might as well go sign a gymnast. This guy is not an NBA basketball player with that size and lack of basketball skill.

    • May 23, 20117:10 pm
      by tarsier

      Reply

      Wow. I don’t want him with the 8th pick either. But it would be amazing, and impossible, to get him at 33. Did he steal your girlfriend or something? What do you have against the guy? And what is wrong with 6-9 and 225? Those are solid numbers for a PF coming out of college.

  • May 24, 20116:49 am
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    i do not expect Thompson to be a starting NBA four or five, though i think he will be a useful player off the bench for some team. I just hope it is not Detroit.

    Ed Davis is a very good comparison, but Thompson is much weaker than Davis. Thompson does get up and down the floor as well as any big man in the draft – he nearly always beats his man down to the offensive end so if the Pistons are going to look to push the ball he might be an asset.

    Would much prefer that they take Burks at this pick if the top two big men are gone.

  • May 29, 20119:39 am
    by Fryman24

    Reply

    I am actually a Thompson fan and I am surprised what a negative response he has been getting from Pistons fans on this site.  I would really like to get Kanter, but that is not going to happen, and Thompson is a defense first player, who is a shot blocker, which I thought is what was needed next to Greg Monroe.  At first I thought his size was bothersome, but he is nearly 6’9 with a good wingspan and I believe he will bulk up (unlike Austin Daye), and height isn’t everything.  Isn’t Ben Wallace around the same height as Thompson, while Charlie Villanueva is 6’11?

  • Jun 22, 20113:21 pm
    by need4detroit

    Reply

    Someone abbove falliciously said Williams was bigger than Thomspom in Draft Measurements. His standing reach and height were both marginally greater than Williams’.

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