Tag Archives: Jason Thompson

You are here: Home / Archive
NBA Toronto Raptors Jason Thompson

Jason Thompson Steps Up To Keep Raptors On Track

The Toronto Raptors have been able to stay on track despite various injuries this season, but veteran experience after their tenth man was non-existent prior to president and general manager Masai Ujiri picking up big man Jason Thompson on March 1 after he was waived by the Golden State Warriors. It was a smart move by Ujiri, Thompson has already been forced to step up the the face of a wave of injuries to Toronto’s bigs.

Starting center Jonas Valanciunas has been resting a bruised hand for a week. Forward James Johnson has been working thru planter fasciitis for a couple of weeks now. Power forward Patrick Patterson turned an ankle during the game against Boston. Plus, it’s easy to forget about combo forward DeMarre Carroll who as been out since January.

However, head coach Dwane Casey now has his insurance in the 29-year-old veteran Thompson who has stepped in, stepped up and performed.

Through his first six games in Toronto Thompson got 24 minutes against Brooklyn and little else, but starting a stretch of five games in seven nights against Chicago last Monday, Casey had to be thanking his lucky stars that Ujiri found him a proven veteran big man in the Warriors discard pile.

Thompson has averaged 5.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, a steal and 0.6 blocks in 19.6 minutes over the past five games and played some pretty solid defense for someone who’s had to learn the playbook on the fly. He’s still learning his place in the offense, but Casey almost doesn’t care about that and Thompson brings a pretty useful offensive repertoire with him once he figures out how the Raptors play at that end of the court.

With no Patterson available against the Magic on Sunday night, Thompson played 28 minutes and came just one bucket shy of posting his first Raptors double-double in the 105-100 Toronto victory. Also, the Raptors were a team best +13 points with Thompson on the court.

“You need players,” Luis Scola told Pro Bball Report after Thompson’s arrival. “You need a solid team of players you can trust, so it’s a good thing for us. (Thompson) is a good player. He’s been playing for quite a few years. He wants to have an opportunity to be on a winning team. He is going to help us. For us it’s a race for how fast we can adapt him to what we do here by the time the playoffs come.

“It’s very important because stuff is going to happen. You just have to make sure you overcome whatever happens. Stuff is going to happen. Bad things are going to happen to every team. You are going to go through a slump, somebody is going to get hurt, you are going to get a bad matchup. Stuff is going to happen. It’s a long road to the playoffs, a lot of time, a lot of games. Good teams (just) walk around whatever happens and become even stronger after that. So you need guys like (Thompson) for that to happen.”

At 35-years-old, Scola is the voice of experience. Stuff has happened and Thompson has been the guy who is letting the Raptors walk around simultaneous injuries to Valanciunas, Patterson, Johnson and Carroll. When everyone gets back, the Raptors are going to be even stronger because Thompson is available and will be ready to step in when needed again.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Jason Thompson

Can Jason Thompson Crack The Raptors Rotation?

“Obviously this team is very established,” Thompson explained to Pro Bball report. “Got a lot of positive things going, so I just want to be part of the ride and help as much as I can (if) guys are banged up or injuries. Be ready if my number is called.”

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Jason Thompson

Can Jason Thompson Crack The Raptors Rotation?

Jason Thompson is a 29-year-old power forward/center who has played 571 NBA games and started in 407 of them. He has career averages of 9 points and 6.7 rebounds. He’s shot 49.7 percent from the field and has range out to – and more recently past – the three-point line. A sold rebounder for a big man and a decent enough defender, but can he crack the fairly well established Raptors big man rotation?

Head coach Dwane Casey seems pretty comfortable going with Jonas Valanciunas, Luis Scola, Patrick Patterson and Bismack Biyombo at the four and five spots and he should. His team is solidly in second place and on track to win a new franchise record of 56 games. This is rarefied air for a club that has never made it to 50 wins in its 21 years of existence. Their 43 wins (March 11) already represents their sixth most ever.

“Obviously this team is very established,” Thompson explained to Pro Bball report. “Got a lot of positive things going, so I just want to be part of the ride and help as much as I can (if) guys are banged up or injuries. Be ready if my number is called.”

Thompson has already got a start in Toronto so Casey could give Scola a day off to rest and that could become very important as the season quickly runs thru the final 19 or so games and the Raptors look to be fresh heading into the playoffs that start in about 5 weeks from now.

However, spot starts to give a regular a rest is not the same as cracking the rotation and it isn’t going to be easy to displace any of the Raptors top four big men.

Known as a good rebounder, Thompson has grabbed about 15 percent of the total available boards over his career and once he’s settled in that’s a pretty good indication of what he can do in Toronto. However, both Valanciunas and Biyombo are taking down over 20 percent of the available boards when they are on the court and have been superior rim protectors as well. Valanciunas providing offense that’s ahead of Thompson and Biyombo has gained the complete trust of his coach on defense.

NBA Toronto Raptors Jason Thompson

The one very interesting and somewhat unexpected skill Thompson could bring at the center spot is what looks like a reliable three-ball. A stretch-five that can rebound and play acceptable defense is a valuable commodity in today’s NBA, so maybe there’s something here – against all the odds.

Patterson doesn’t rebound particularly well, but in the current small ball NBA, he’s a mobile big man that can guard the perimeter. It’s obvious Casey is in love with what Patterson brings to the table, even when his big forward isn’t hitting his three-ball. That kind of loyalty and trust isn’t shaken easily.

Scola and Thompson’s games seem pretty similar and in reality, these two are probably fighting it out for a contract offer for next season. Both players have size, hustle for rebounds and have pulled out an unexpected three-point shot that increases their value as a stretch-four. Probably interchangeable, but that gives a distinct edge to Scola as he’s been the starting power forward all season.

So, this period is really like an extended job interview. Who fits best for the long term?

“I kind of really never been through it before being on one team for seven years,” Thompson said. “(Then) being on so many many different teams in a year’s span. It’s just part of the route I’ve taken and it just shows how much character a person can have going thru those times. It’s easy to be a pro when stuff is going positive, but when something doesn’t go your way, it’s how you react to that. So, I could definitely learn from this experience.

“It’s an audition. For me, going thru adversity can make myself better character-wise and (as a) player as well.

“Players are needed for the playoffs as well and this is the first playoffs in my career, my eight year career and that’s the most interesting part. It’s good to be here at this time and learning from a talented team like this in the second seed and trying to go for the first.”

It’s hard to believe, until one remembers the 29-year-old Thompson has played most of his career in Sacramento, that this eight year veteran has never been to the postseason. At least from his experience with the Kings he should be used to the audition process with a new head coach, he had seven head coaches in seven years there – then he had two more in Golden State this season, plus Casey in Toronto makes 10 head coaches in eight seasons.

“I don’t think it helps,” Thompson said. ” Because you want to be in a role where you are comfortable with a coach and a system and just worry about yourself and not the system per se. Every time you have to learn from a new coach and a new system it’s not the easiest, but that’s how you learn character-wise as a player. If you can get thru those things and find ways to be effective on both sides of the floor then you can make yourself into a player.”

At least Thompson shouldn’t be shaken up or surprised by having to learn yet another system on short notice from another new head coach in Toronto. That aspect of the change should be like getting out of bed in the morning by now.

Unfortunately, minutes for all of the Raptors big men are expected to be feeling the squeeze very soon from the pending return of DeMarre Carroll.

Carroll has only played in 23 games for the Raptors this season because of foot and knee issues, but he’s expected back in short order (no date has been set, but its been about 8 weeks since his surgery) and once he’s reclaimed his spot in the starting lineup, everybody playing in the three/four/five spots in the rotation will feel his impact. Like so many teams, the Raptors are at their best playing some version of small ball and Carroll is at his best defending against power threes and stretch-fours (and even stretch-fives).

Plus, if Carroll returns as Toronto’s third best three-point threat, it will be the competition adjusting to match what the Raptors can put on the court rather than the other way around.

As Casey said on Thompson’s arrival, he’s “insurance” and he’s needed insurance. A team can’t play small ball all the time against every opponent and the Raptors options at center are not all that comfortable if Biyombo or Valanciunas are lost for even a few games. Thompson is also likely the best option if Scola wasn’t available, although his fellow former Kings teammate James Johnson would probably fill in for Patterson if needed.

Cracking the rotation and taking the spot of any of the four big men Casey currently relies upon isn’t likely at this point, but Thompson will get to play as guys get days off heading towards the playoffs. As much as anything, this is an audition for next season and this veteran looks pretty interesting.

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Jason Thompson

Raptors Add Depth And Insurance For The Playoffs And Beyond

The Eastern Conference’s second place Toronto Raptors have been getting by without a lot of depth so far this season and on occasion, being short of veteran help on the back end of their roster has jumped up to bite them. This team needed some depth and insurance, particularly in the frontcourt and finally president and general manager Masai Ujiri broke down and waived one of his precious young prospects and said good-bye to Canadian Anthony Bennett in order to add the Golden State Warriors recently waived veteran big man Jason Thompson.

“We signed Jason Thompson,” Ujiri said. “We feel we needed a little help at the power forward position and he’s a guy that started probably an average of 60 games (over) the last four/five years and (he’s) a good rebounder and midrange shooter, but just somebody to come in a fit on our team.

“Where we find ourselves now, (Thompson) is something that can help us maybe a little bit down the road.

“He has been a consistent rebounder which is I think good, a good offensive rebounder. Then he developed a midrange shot that’s not bad. Those are things that I think could help us, but he also knows that he is coming to play within a system where there’s a way we play and there are guys we go to and how guys fit with our team. I think he understands that. We are hoping (he’s) one of those things that fit and sticks with us.

“You hope for (him to) move the needle. You never know. He is going to play a role on our team. I don’t think it’s as big a role as he’s played in the past. We just hope he helps us win more ball games.”

Over his eight seasons in the NBA, Thompson has grabbed an average of 9.6 percent of the available offensive rebounds and 20.3 percent of the available defensive boards. If it translates, that would place him as the Raptors third best rebounder on an already solid rebounding team.

Thompson finishes well around the rim, at a career average of about 65 percent and he has shot at right around 40 percent from three feet away out to the three-point line pretty consistently.

“I think he is going to be an excellent addition to us,” head coach Dwane Casey said. “He’s a veteran player. He’s been thru the wars. He’s seen everything. He’s come from a winning program in Golden State. A high I.Q. player. A guy that is going to play hard.

“He is an insurance policy with Luis (Scola) and Patrick (Patterson) down the road. He is not coming in to supplant anybody because anybody is not playing well or whatever the issue is. He is an insurance policy.

“I have done my homework on him. Talked to all of his former coaches, assistant coaches, so I know about him, what he can do and can’t do. So, (I’m) very comfortable. (You) just wouldn’t want to bring anybody into our chemistry because I think we got a strong locker room, a close locker room. A team that has been thru the wars already together. It’s not like we have to have somebody come in and change the world, just come in and support the guys that are already here.”

The wars Casey is referring to must be in Sacramento as Thompson hasn’t had a sniff at the playoffs tolling away in obscurity until this season. However, the last group of guys Casey got from the Kings organization looked way better than expected after they arrived in Toronto. So, maybe there are other kinds of war in the NBA?

Thompson does have 406 NBA starts under his belt and playing besides DeMarcus Cousins either seems to toughen up a player or just make them blossom after they leave?

“I’ve been around winning this season (in Golden State) and you have a lot of winning ways out here in Toronto,” Thompson said. “I know a bunch of the guys from playing against them and former teammates in Patrick (Patterson) and James (Johnson). A top-notch organization and I am excited for the opportunity.

“I am not trying to come in and mess up a great thing, but be a part of something and help and try and make this ride go.

“(I am) not coming in here to establish myself and mess up a great thing, but just try and pick my spots, make open shots, rebound, defend and do the little things to see this team succeed.”

Thompson can play at power forward or center, so it’s interesting to hear what his former Kings teammates Patterson and Johnson have to say about the guy who might be taking some of their minutes.

“Jason Thompson, a hard working individual on and off the court, always does the right thing, never back-talks, great rebounder, great midrange jump shot, great defensive player, great mindset,” Patterson said about his former and now current teammate. “A veteran, been thru it all. He’s a hard worker and that’s something we desperately need.

“He’s a great leader. When I was there in Sacramento, he was a guy that was speaking up. He was a vocal one. He was the first one in the gym and the last one to leave. Just a tremendous hard worker.

“He’s not going to cause any problems. He is going to learn his role. He is going to play his role well. He is going to be happy. We are going to be successful with him on this team. He’s a great guy.

“He is going to bring energy on and off the court.

“I doubt anything is going to change. Scola is the starter, me coming off the bench, but with the remaining games left, guys need rest, Scola or myself, or JV (Valanciunas), or Biz (Biyombo), luckily Jason can play the four and the five.”

Johnson was equally positive about the addition of Thompson.

“He’s tough, explosive, he goes after every rebound,” Johnson said. “He has a midrange shot that you have to guard. He’ll be a big pick-and-pop threat.

“He’s a great guy. He’s just normal like one of us. He is going to fit in well. It’s a good addition to our locker room.

“I don’t know what his role is going to be right now, but I’m sure whatever it’s going to be he’s going to adapt to it and take care of business.”

Johnson, more than anyone else on the Raptors, understands the role of being insurance for another player. Johnson got his starts and most of his minutes this season covering for the injured DeMarre Carroll and he knows Carroll will be taking that role back fairly soon. However, he can also see just how important his role has been for Toronto this season.

Thompson, like Johnson, should be an important asset for Casey to use down the stretch of this season and into the playoffs. Plus, maybe there’s a longer term role for him in Toronto after the season is over?

 

 
 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.

 

 

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Anthony BennettRaptors Waive Anthony Bennett To Sign Jason Thompson

It’s about time, the Anthony Bennett experiment is over for now. Toronto Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri has finally decided to add a little bit of hopefully useful depth on his bench by picking up veteran 6’11 big man Jason Thompson

NBA Toronto Raptors Norman Powell & Delon WrightDo The Raptors Have Too Many D-League Prospects?

Toronto Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri has filled his team’s final open roster spot with the recent NBA number one overall draft pick reclamation prospect Anthony Bennett. This depth of potential was added to a roster that already included two rookies on guaranteed contracts and two returning players that barely played in the NBA last year.

 

NBA Toronto Raptors Anthony Bennett

Raptors Waive Anthony Bennett To Sign Jason Thompson

It’s about time, the Anthony Bennett experiment is over for now. Toronto Raptors president and general manager Masai Ujiri has finally decided to add a little bit of hopefully useful depth on his bench by picking up veteran 6’11 big man Jason Thompson who had been waived by the Warriors last week to make room for Anderson Varejao.

 

 

Bennett has struggled in the NBA, starting with being drafted number one overall by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013 despite being injured prior to the draft. Injuries and what looked like a lack of confidence or maybe trust in his surgically repaired shoulder seem like the logical reason why Bennett was never able to live up the expectations of a lottery pick let alone being number one.

The Raptors took a flyer on him this past summer and handed Bennett the 15th spot on their roster, but in 19 appearances, he just didn’t perform. Throw out the low points and rebounds, he shot 30.8 percent from the field and 21.4 percent from three-point range and didn’t look good on defense either. More would have been expected from any third year player.

Even the Mississauga Raptors 905 didn’t bring out the best in him. Bennett shot just 33.9 percent from the field and 25 percent from deep against the want-to-bes and hopefuls in the NBA D-League. His 9.2 points and 3.1 rebounds was beyond disappointing at this level.

The 29-year-old Thompson is an eight-year NBA veteran who has started 406 NBA games. He played for the Kings until being traded last summer to the Warriors.

In Sacramento Thompson had career averages of 9.4 points and 6.9 rebounds in 26.5 minutes, but on a deep Warriors team there were few opportunities to play.

In Toronto he will give head coach Dwane Casey a third string big man with solid NBA experience for those occasions when someone gets in foul trouble, is injured or maybe is just having an off night.

 

Update:

The Phoenix Suns may be interested in picking up Bennett. That would be good news for Team Canada as Bennett could be an important piece in the team’s drive to qualify for the Olympics later this summer.

 

 

 

Stephen_Brotherston_insideStephen Brotherston covers the Toronto Raptors and visiting NBA teams at the Air Canada Centre and is a member of the Professional Basketball Writers Association.