If there’s one player that fits every criteria the Phoenix Suns are looking for in the 2011 NBA Draft, it’s former University of Texas big man Tristan Thompson.
It’s unlikely the 6-foot-9 high-energy power forward will be around at 13, but if he falls to the Suns their future is set to take a turn from bleak to bright.
Thompson is everything the Suns need and more, as he not only fills their gaping hole at the power forward spot, but also gives them the kind of upside necessary for an aging team thirsting for a young star.
It’s obviously too early to crown Thompson a future All-Star. He’s still only 20 years old and played just one year as a Longhorn. He lets his youth shine through at times by committing questionable fouls and struggling with the mental aspect of the game.
But Thompson’s energy, athleticism, rebounding ability and raw talent give him a great chance to be a stud at power forward for years to come. He’s extremely quick for his position and does a great job finishing at the rim thanks to his soft touch, ambidexterity, 35-inch vertical and 7-foot-1 wingspan.
Thompson has a long way to go in the post, as his potential remains untapped on the block and his jump shot needs some work (not to mention his sub-50 percent free-throw clip last season).
Those improvements will come with time and experience, however, especially with Thompson possessing the makeup of an NBA mainstay. Then add in that he gives the Suns toughness on the interior — he finished third in the nation in offensive rebounds and led the Big 12 in blocks — and it’s a match made in heaven.
The athletic big man also thrives on the move and showed great pick-and-roll prowess at Texas. Oh yeah, he also grew up in Canada, which could earn him a few more courtesy bounce passes from Steve Nash.
Thompson is young and it’s clearly going to take some time for him to develop, but it’s not like the aging Suns are playing for championships. They can more than afford to wait on a young prospect like Thompson, who could very well be the Amare Stoudemire heir Phoenix management has been missing since STAT left for the Big Apple.
Again, it’s hard to believe that Thompson falls all of the way to 13 (although Chad Ford has Thompson to the Suns in his latest mock draft). But if he does indeed slip, the Suns are well on their way to filling the power forward void left by Stoudemire while improving defensively and on the glass.