We’re running a poll in today’s sports section asking readers which in-state NBA product is the most fun to watch?
You have two choices: Nate Robinson, who starred at Washington, or former Washington State standout Klay Thompson.
Ken Bone, who coached both players, said Thursday he’s enjoying watching both of them succeed during the playoffs. Bone arrived at Washington in 2002 shortly before Robinson walked off the football field and onto a basketball court where he became a star. They left UW in 2005.
When Bone took the WSU job the first thing he did was watch every game from the previous season of Thompson. Bone concluded the Cougars were underutilizing the 6-foot-7 freshman.
“I’m not knocking the system at all – a great system under coach Tony Bennett – but Klay was really just a catch-and-shoot guy,” Bone said. “We needed more. We needed him to score a variety of ways.
“I asked the video coordinator to pull up some James Harden stuff because Klay’s got to learn how to drive it and be aggressive like Harden,” Bone said. “So we tried to mix the ability of him being able to shoot it and being able to drive and at times post up. And he really became a great scorer for us obviously.
“And he’s doing that now.”
Thompson started 33 games as a freshman and had just 31 free-throw attempts. He made 28 and averaged 12.5 points. Bone replaced WSU’s half-court oriented offense with an up-tempo scheme built around its mercurial shooting guard.
As a sophomore, Thompson converted 133 of 166 attempts at the line while averaging 19.6 points.
As a junior, he converted 155 of 185 attempts at the line while averaging 21.6 points.
It’s interesting to note, Washington junior C.J. Wilcox is following a similar path. He’s brilliant jump shooter who rarely got to the line early in his career. However, he’s become more of a versatile scorer recently.
As a redshirt freshman Wilcox was 25 of 31 at the line and averaged 8.1 points. As a sophomore he was 78 of 93 and averaged 14.2 points. And last season he 93 of 114 free throw attempts while averaging 16.8 points.
It’s not entirely a fair comparison because WSU built its offense around Thompson, who took 551 shots his final season. Wilcox has the green light, but he was more judicious and attempted 480 shots last season.
Still maybe Wilcox should ask Thompson if he can borrow those videos of Harden. Or better yet, maybe he should tune into the the NBA playoffs and watch Thompson, who is quickly becoming a star.