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Celtics Draft Preview: Klay Thompson

Klay Thompson eyes the basket
Klay Thompson eyes the basket

For the next month, is taking a look at potential Celtics draft picks in the 2011 NBA Draft. Second up in the series, Washington State's Klay Thompson.

His measurements from the Draft Combine:

Birthday: 2/8/1990     Height: 6'7.25"     Weight: 205.6     Wingspan: 6'9"     Standing Reach: 8'7.5"

His per-game stats from his junior season at Washington State:

Mins: 34.7     Pts: 21.6     FG: 7.1     FGA: 16.2     FG%: 43.6      3p%: 39.8     FT%: 83.8     Rebs: 5.2     Asts: 3.7    Turnovers: 3.4

Great shooters like Ray Allen can stay in the NBA much longer than other players can (see: Reggie Miller), and with the peak physical condition of Allen, he's able to stay on the court for 40 minutes even at the age of 35.

Still, it can't last forever, and eventually the C's will need to look for another shooting guard to take over. Delonte West is a serviceable backup, but I don't think the Celtics see him as Ray Allen's permanent successor down the road.

Yes, the C's drafted Avery Bradley last season, but it's too early to determine what their plans are for him either. Is he simply Rondo's backup? His future in this league seems to be at the PG position. If the C's are interested in shooting guards, there are a handful of worthy candidates in this year's draft.

Two of them they'd have to trade up for - Colorado's Alec Burks and Washington State's Klay Thompson. One may slide - Texas' Jordan Hamilton (featured later in the series). And one is slated to go around the 25th pick or later - Providence's Marshon Brooks (also featured later in the series).

But out of those four players, Thompson most resembles Allen, although he certainly has a ways to go. Thompson is one of the purest shooters in the draft, and has a pretty sweet stroke from beyond the arc. Even though Thompson was the go-to guy on his team, his game revolves a ton around off-the-ball movement, much like Allen does now with the C's.

He's learned to come off screens, catch, and shoot extremely quickly, and through that movement has improved his on-court awareness and court vision.

According to DraftExpress, Thompson was a hot topic at the recent draft combine workouts. They caught up with Thompson after the workouts and asked him how he thought it went:

"I thought I just showed versatility. People think I lack foot speed on the defensive end but I thought that I moved my feet pretty well today. There were some real athletic guards out there, so it was a good challenge."

If there's one knock on Thompson it's that he's not athletic enough for the NBA stage, but it's something he has worked on and continues to work on. He also has to be better on the defensive end, common for young shooters like himself.

Here is what, who gives Thompson an overall rating of 93, says about his weaknesses:

An average athlete who plays below the rim ... He's a "momentum athlete" in the sense that he shows solid athleticism when he has momentum moving towards the rim ... Much better in the half court than in the open floor. His lack of elite athleticism gets exposed in the transition game ... Lacks great foot speed which inhibits his ability to take the ball off the dribble against quick defenders ... Recevied a one game suspension due to a marijuana possession charge, but scouts don't seem too concerned about that therefore it hasn't affected his stock much ... Long, athletic defenders can give him trouble ...

"I've been working a lot on my strength and just endurance," he told DraftExpress. "I have to get stronger because I'm going to be facing some really good shooting guards at the next level. And yea I'm just trying to work on my explosiveness too because I have a pretty good outside game so far and if I can continue to finish above the rim it will just make me that much better of a player."

Basketball is in the blood of Thompson, whose father is Mychal Thompson, drafted first overall in the 1978 NBA draft by the Portland Trailblazers. Thompson had an above average career, not HOF worthy by any means, but many Celtics fans will remember the role he played in helping the Lakers win consecutive titles in 1987 and 1988.

He has been a major influence in his son's life and continues to be today.

"I love my dad," Thompson told DraftExpress. "I always go to him for advice, you know. Sometimes being my dad I feel like he's just on me but that's just him having experience in the league. I don't need to turn to anybody else because he was in there for twelve years. And he's still around my game all the time."

Thompson is no doubt excellent at what he does, which is hit the outside shot. Pairing him with Rondo and perhaps Jeff Green would definitely stretch the court, but Thompson will have to work on his transition game for it to really fit, scouts and experts say.

So, does this seem like a kid the Celtics would be interested in moving up to snag?

Klay Thompson: NBA Draft Video (via supersonicsrocks)


Klay Thompson With the Facial (via mawasa)


Follow Jimmy Toscano on Twitter, @Jimmy_Toscano.

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