Ken Bone: Thompson needs to improve defense to be successful in NBA

Jun 25, 2011, 11:09 AM | Updated: Jun 27, 2011, 1:33 pm

WSU’s Klay Thompson was drafted with the 11th overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft last Thursday. (AP Photo/File)

By Michael Simeona

A WSU basketball player had never received a handshake from NBA commissioner David Stern as early as Klay Thompson did last Thursday night.

Drafted by the Golden State Warriors with the 11th overall pick in the first round of Thursday’s NBA Draft, Thompson became the first ever WSU player to be drafted with a lottery selection.

“We’re just ecstatic for Klay, he deserves it,” WSU men’s basketball head coach Ken Bone told the Kevin Calabro Show on Friday. “He’s worked hard, and it’s nice to see a Coug go number eleven.”

Thompson was considered one of the best scorer’s in WSU history, ranking first in 3-pointers made (242) and third in total points (1,756). During his junior season, Thompson led the Pac-10 in scoring (21.6 ppg) and helped lead the Cougars to their first ever final four berth in the postseason NIT tournament.

Thompson joins an organization in transition mode after new owner’s Joe Lacob and Peter Guber purchased the Warriors for $450 million last fall. They recently hired Hall of Famer Jerry West to lead their basketball operations, and appointed former ESPN NBA analyst Mark Jackson as their new head coach.

While Bone thinks Thompson fits in nicely with a rebuilding Warriors franchise, he believes Klay must improve his defense if he wants to succeed in the professional ranks.

“I do hope he continues to work on his defense,” Bone said of Thompson’s limitations. “He has shown, at times with us, where he could really guard. He has great basketball instincts, he competes well, he has about [a] six-foot-nine wingspan – but he didn’t always play great defense. I think part of it was the fact that he had to produce so many minutes for us, and we needed him to score. But someone on that team down there is going to have to guard.”

Though he led the Cougars in scoring each of the last three seasons, Thompson’s scoring ability won’t be needed as much at Golden State. Led by a backcourt of Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, the Warriors have averaged at least 100 ppg in each of the last two seasons.

“Golden State does have some shooters – they push it really well – but I think they’re also looking for some defense, and it will help Klay if he steps that game up a little bit,” said Bone.

Bone made light of the fact that his team depended on Thompson for scoring, which was dictated by the large amount of minutes they needed him on the court for each game. But the Cougars would eventually suffer from Thompson’s immaturity near the end of last season, after he was suspended for a crucial home game against UCLA for possession of marijuana.

While the Cougars fell short of expectations by not receiving an NCAA Tournament at-large berth, Bone believes Thompson has already learned from his indiscretions in order to become a solid NBA player.

“I think he’s matured already,” Bone said. “He was way better this year than he was in his sophomore year, and because he’s going to come into an organization where he, again, is maybe even not a starter, I don’t think we’re going to see that again.

“He’s grown up quite a bit in the last year and I think he will continue to.”

Follow Michael Simeona on Twitter @Msimeona

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Ken Bone: Thompson needs to improve defense to be successful in NBA