SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Jason Thompson has felt his share of misery. After the Sacramento Kings drafted him 12th in 2008, the team has gone 120-285 in the regular season.
“Since 2008 I’ve been the longest-tenured King,” Thompson told Sports Out West on Tuesday. “I’ve seen different coaches, different owners, different (general managers), different players. I can name over 20 players that I’ve played with who are not here anymore.”
With losing came desperation. And on a rebuilding club like Sacramento’s, Thompson realized he had to be willing to do anything to improve the Kings. Even at the cost of his ego.
Thompson has repeatedly made the ultimate sacrifice by coming off the bench. In 388 NBA career appearances, he’s entered the game after tipoff in 103. Thompson opened the 2013-14 campaign as a reserve before rejoining the starters in the Kings’ seventh contest versus the Brooklyn Nets.
Thompson has also been flexible with positions. A power forward in spirit, the 6-foot-11, 250 pounder bangs with centers when needed. Thompson logged the majority of his minutes at the pivot in the 2009-10 season, and his approach remains the same.
“I try to take advantage of whatever guy is trying to guard me,” Thompson added. “I think I’m more of a natural four, but you know how the game is changing with a lot of fours being three-men, so depending on the matchup that’s how I play the four and the five.”
In 2012-13 when Thompson earned a career-high 81 starts, the big’s production was indifferent at the two positions. His net-PER (Player Efficiency Rating) side-by-side was a contrast of 0.3 according to 82games.com.
Thompson’s usage at center has decreased while DeMarcus Cousins has grown into the job. The frontcourt pairing is intimidating, but the duo is still ironing out kinks as they share similar play styles.
“We try to pick and choose each other’s spots. I like to pick-and-pop a lot and I like to be in the paint as well. It might get a little crowded at times. You try to look at other (paired) bigs that have been successful, the Zach’s and the Gasol’s and see where we can be effective, and get back to those ways when we’re dominating rebounds and being big in the paint.”
While Thompson may never develop into a two-way star as former GM Geoff Petrie predicted, the 27-year-old isn’t done polishing his game. The Rider alum put in time in the offseason to add a 3-pointer. (He’s 1-for-26 from distance in his career). Thompson shot down speculation that he’ll return to small forward, a position he dabbled with as a rookie, but he’s apparently saving his secret weapon for later.
“Once my field goal percentage gets up, I’ll probably have more attempts. It’s still early on in the season so you never know what happens.”
Until then, Thompson will keep doing the Kings’ dirty work. He’ll clean the glass and mop the floors if need be. Thompson’s record in Sacramento might seem minuscule, but his value as a compliant teammate is understated.
Photo Credit: Jaime Valdez / USA TODAY Sports