The San Antonio Spurs tried to trade up to pick Klay Thompson in the 2011 NBA Draft.
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The 2011 NBA Draft will always be known as the draft the Spurs pulled off a huge deal, netting themselves Kawhi Leonard after trading fan favorite George Hill to the Pacers. It has been considered a franchise-saving deal, as Leonard has emerged to become one of the NBA’s rising stars and helped lead the team to the 2014 NBA title–where he was named Finals MVP.
According to ESPN’s Zach Lowe the Spurs needed two private workouts, however, before deciding to pursue him since the intel on Thompson “was so jumbled.”
The intel on Thompson was so jumbled, the Spurs needed two private workouts before deciding to attempt trading up to get him. After one workout, Chip Engelland, the Spurs’ shooting guru, told the front office something that made their hair stand on end, officials remember: Thompson’s competitive nature reminded him of Manu Ginobili.
“There’s something deep in there,” Engelland recalled. “He has that chip. When you see it, you know it.”
No question everything has worked out for both San Antonio and Golden State with their respective picks. Both Leonard and Thompson have proven to be valuable for their teams. Leonard is coming off of a season where he led San Antonio to their best record in franchise history with a 67-15 record and helping them reach the postseason for the 19th consecutive year. He also was named as an All-Star starter (His first appearance), won back-to-back Defensive Player of the Year and finished second in MVP voting behind Stephen Curry and ahead of Cleveland’s LeBron James.
Thompson is a streaky shooter and on the verge of helping Golden State win their second NBA title (back-to-back) as they lead the Cavaliers 2-1. Playing behind a player like Curry, Thompson still finds his ways to get up a shot. When he is on, he is on.
If the Spurs were to draft Thompson, just sit back and think on how he would be with the Spurs and surrounding himself around Tim Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Manu Ginobili and the rest of the team. Thompson and Parker could be a great duo in the league, possibly one of the best. Not taking anything away from Danny Green, but Thompson is a much better scorer and his defense is relentless. His shooting ability would indeed open the inside up for San Antonio bigs.
In the end, the Spurs got their man in Leonard. He is the face of the franchise. He is a better two-way player than Thompson and has more upside than him as well.