Well, we here at BSOTS have seemingly beaten the Suns rebounding issue to a bloody pulp. Me personally, I don’t mind beating a dead horse, but at some point I need to save my energy to guzzle the T-Bird and Boone’s Farm in the fridge. Standing at the gates of rebounding restlessness is a solution somewhere..That being said, there have been all kinds of suggestions here to address this issue, ranging from ignoring it to bringing in a certified goon ala Danny Fortson. So I guess it’s time for me tooffer my two cents worth by reaching into the old rectal database and provide my analysis of the latest BSOTS desire du’ jour and his potential fit into the Suns rotation - Jason Thompson….
Jason is probably one of the most intriguing prospects for addressing the Suns rebounding issues, namely because his current “bum-of-the day” status in Sac Town. Somehow, Darnell Jackson has not only secured an NBA job, but also moved ahead of Thompson on the depth charth---Damn, I think I’ll try out next year for the Hawks… Anyways, Thompson came into this year’s campaign fresh off of a fairly impressive rookie season where he averaged 12.5 ppg & 8.5 rpg and instantly became one of the top offensive rebounders in the NBA. His skills he put on display got him a lot of notice around the league even though he showed some of the usual brain-lapses and decision making shortcomings that plague many NBA rookies.
First and foremeost, where Jason could really help the Suns is that he has a big frame, and a nice combination of strength, athleticism, skill, and desire to rebound. Besides being good on the offensive glass, he is more than serviceable on the defense glass as well. His precense would immediately slow down the "volley-ball" work opponents have been doing to us. I also think his overall defense would be somewhat of an asset as well because he shows solid lateral quickness, possesses excellent length, good timing and instincts, and can run with most of the quicker 4’s & 5’s in the league. On the flip side, I have noticed that sometimes he gets lost on the pick and roll switch and his close-out reactions to jump shooters aren’t always great. I do think that is just part of learning the game as he is a competitor, and has a knack for contesting jumpers and opponents out on the perimeter without drawing excessive fouls. For a big man, his perimeter defense is damn good, and I doubt we could do better for a big man that could guard jump shooters.
What really concerns me defensively and probably his biggest negative for the Suns acquiring him, however, is that Thompson has not shown an ability to effectively defend the post. This is an area that the Suns need help in defending the Duncans & Gasols of the Western conference, and I am not sure how much help Thompson could provide. While you can generally count on Jason to give you an occasional highlight reel block, fight for loose rebounds, and do a good job boxing out his man, the problem is that he does not show good footwork in defending the post. He tends to initiate unnecessary contact (drawing quick fouls) with his upper body down low and is definitely prone to hacking shooters on layups and other post moves. Hacking isn’t necessarily a bad thing if done right, but a lot of Jason’s post hacks result in an “And 1.” I think a lot of this can be corrected by good coaching (Bill Cartwright) as he is still a very young player and he has a desire to contest shots and be aggressive.
On the offensive side of the ball, Thompson has some nice offensive skills, no doubt… He is one of those guys that always seem to get numbers and you don’t even notice him doing it. He is fairly versatile offensively, but his ability to score in a variety of ways sometime results in some very questionable shots over the course of the game. While he wouldn’t be as bad as Matt Barnes, Suns fans would definitely question the ways he goes about his shot selection. Methinks, this is what probably got him in Westphal’s doghouse. Looking over some video of him, I see a lot of fadeaway jumpers on the block that barely draw iron (Thought I was watching Anthony Mason for a second), quite a few pull-up jumpers with a defenders draped all over him, and more than a few shots at the rim that were definitely rushed. Additionally, Thompson sometimes falls in love with his 12-15 foot jumper that doesn't fall as much as you'd wish. Bottom line here is that his midrange game still needs a lot of work, so Amare he is not. As far as creating his own shot, forget about it…. He’s nowhere near a capable shooter off the dribble, and he still doesn’t shoot well when his defender gets a hand in his face – two things he can work on if he gets here, but in the grand scheme of things, aren’t deal-killers to bringing him in.
Okay, while he won’t remind us of STAT with his jumper, Thompson doesn’t look too bad around the rim. Like I said earlier, sometimes he rushes himself down there, but his ability to get up the floor in transition as well as his soft hands make him definitely interesting to the Suns. He also sets good solid screens without fouling. The name of the game here for effective incorporation into the Suns lineup would be taking advantage of Jason’s transition speed and his nice ability to catch as part of the PNR with Steve, Hedo and/or Goran. While he doesn’t have the finishing ability of, say STAT, he does have a decent touch and the necessary body control to avoid offensive fouls and get to the rim. He will grab a fair share of his offensive rebounds if he does miss and he is also good free-throw shooter to take care of those invariable fouls that he will draw (He draws a ton). I will caveat all this by saying that in order to sustain long term success in the Suns uniform, he would have to develop a few post moves such as a drop step. Once again the Suns coaching staff can definitely help here.
Given how productive Thompson was last year with decent minutes, I can’t believe how quickly Sacremento has gotten down on him. Darnell Jackson…? Give me a freaking break…! While Thompson isn’t perfect, and he won’t totally solve the Suns interior defensive woes, the Suns can do so much worse than Jason Thompson, especially how he would instantly improve our rebounding. Given a starting role with the Suns and a real support system, I don’t see how Jason could not average 17ppg,10rpg, & 2 bpg with 30+ minutes per game. Furthermore if we consider that Rolo may be out for a few, Thompson can be a serviceable replacement for 20-25 minutes a game manning the pivot. Personally, I think the Suns fit Thompson well, since he is still a few years away from reaching his full potential and he would be a perfect building block along with Goran & Rolo. With added polish, Thompson could be a fringe all-star. Knowing his current predicament and that he will probably go cheap, I think the Suns would be foolish not to push hard to acquire him while his value is low.
I'll be consoled in the fact that you may not agree with this article, but Boones' Farm always agrees with me....