NBA Pre-Draft Tour: Tristan Thompson Workout
SLAMonline checks out the projected lottery pick.
With the Draft now officially less than a month away, guys are finally ready to step away from their home gyms and hit the hardwood for prospective teams. After checking out Enes Kanter and Marshon Brooks in Chicago, we hit the road with our homie Ty Kish from City League Hoops to Houston to see what players John Lucas had to offer.
John Lucas Basketball Resources offers a variety of services to players of all ages. While we most commonly hear about his recovery program in the media (namely with the JaMarcus Russell and Michael Beasley situations), many cats often forget the work that Lucas does with younger players and also preps players for the NBA Draft. I was fortunate enough to be invited to Lucas’ gym back in January, where we saw John Lucas III, Mike James, and former NBA high flyer Eddie Robinson attempting to work their way back into the league. It was great talking with Lucas, even after an hour long heated debate on who was better out of MJ and Kobe (I insisted MJ, Lucas had Kobe).
For the pre-Draft training in Houston, Lucas was joined by Brian Merritt, Bilal Batley, and ex-Grizzlies assistant GM Kenny Williamson. They started things off with a little two ball dribbling to increase hand-eye coordination. What followed was some rudimentary post work, where the Canadian native really flourished. The footwork that Thompson offers on the low block is right up there amongst the top big men in the draft and when combined with his ability to finish above the rim with either hand, you see why he’s able to compensate for just being a little over 6-8. As the post drills went on, they went into some more complex drills that involved a series of counters and up and unders. As in the more basic drills, the product of Ro Russell’s Grassroots Canada AAU program wowed onlookers with the fluidity in his footwork in the pivot. Though this won’t go down as one of the strongest drafts in NBA history, it doesn’t change the fact that there may not be anyone who can dance in the post better than the Texas freshman.
Just as impressive as Thompson’s ballet act in the post was how quick he was able to bounce off of the ground with his second leap, getting up nearly just as high as his initial thrust in the air. Doing his best impression of a human pogo stick, the Canadian big man was easily the best of the group throughout the drills that involved grabbing the ball from high off of the glass and going right back up with it. Many have envisioned TT as a high energy, active guy and these workouts only made a more telling case for his likely success in this area.
When the 5-on-5 action picked up, none of the big men in the gym could stay in front of Thompson when he faced up and attacked the tin. The video doesn’t do him justice since all of the fouls weren’t put in there. No one could really stay in front of him with his explosive first step and on the other end of the floor, the former McDonald’s All-American made people remember he was on the floor every time in the lane via his massive wingspan. All in all, there wasn’t a better player in the gym in Houston.
While Tristan definitely put on a show for us, he’s still very far from a finished product at this point. His shooting range is still fairly limited at this point and he must continue to work on his perimeter defense. Even with room for improvement in the aforementioned areas, the feedback received is that Thompson will likely land anywhere from 5-16 in the draft. Though where the one-and-done Canadian big man lands is up in the air, one thing is for certain: he’ll be repping Brampton, Ontario across the stage to shake the commissioner’s hand and everywhere he goes in the League.