What might have been: The Spurs tried to trade up and draft Warriors' Klay Thompson in 2011
Glimpses into a strange alternate universe.
In the wake of Klay Thompson's 60-points-in-29-minutes performance on Monday night, everyone is left to wonder what might have happened had Thompson not found himself specifically on the Warriors. The Warriors no doubt unlock Thompson's full potential, just as Thompson unlocks what the Warriors are capable of with his scoring, defense and gravity.
It's easy to forget that Thompson was drafted all the way at No.11 in 2011. Furthermore, Yahoo Sports reports that several other teams, most notably the San Antonio Spurs, had eyes on him in that draft:
Five and half years ago, a call had come into Myers inside the Warriors' facility. Within 48 hours of the 2011 draft, the San Antonio Spurs had flown in Thompson for a clandestine workout and meeting with Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford.
Myers had known the Spurs were aggressively pushing for a trade into the Toronto Raptors' fifth spot to draft Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas, a move the Warriors wanted to make themselves. Short of that deal, Myers had a sneaking suspicion that the Spurs were moving toward a Plan B: cutting a deal to bound over the Warriors' 11th overall pick and take Thompson.
Golden State believed this, too: At No. 10, the Milwaukee Bucks wanted to draft Thompson as well.
"Consensus was hard with our group," Myers once told me, "but we had it with drafting Klay."
So on top of how interesting it is that the Spurs were looking to acquire Jonas Valanciunas, the Thompson fit is fascinating. Thompson is quiet and enjoys Harry Potter books, he would fit in well with the Spurs' culture. He wouldn't be this kind of dominant, explosive force, but he would have become much of the same kind of all-round player and likely would have emerged as their building point post-Duncan, just as Kawhi Leonard has.
In fact, as great as Leonard is -- and he's an MVP candidate -- you wonder how much having a scorer who can take over the game the way Thompson can would have changed and helped the Spurs. Leonard's defense was crucial to their 2014 NBA title, and Leonard is a two-time Defensive Player of the Year which Thompson is unlikely to have become.
And yet Leonard, even with his brilliant efficiency and an offensive repertoire that is constantly evolving, doesn't have quite the same scoring ability that Thompson does, and that alone can flip games on its own. Maybe the best way to put it is that Leonard is a player that helps the Spurs immensely possession by possession, where as Thompson's high points would have helped them game by game.
It's a no-lose for the Spurs in retrospect, but still interesting to wonder what would have happened, not only with the Spurs, but the Warriors, had Thompson not fell in their lap.
In related news, the Sacramento Kings traded up in that draft.
They took Jimmer Fredette, who is currently having a phenomenal season ...
... In China.
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