It's easy to forget this now, but Jason Thompson was once a 12th overall pick. This was back in 2008, when the Sacramento Kings were still trying to figure things out (uh, wait). Thompson plugged away for that franchise for seven long, playoff-less years. He had the longest streak going for games played without a playoff appearance, in fact. It's funny then to note that he probably would have gone on to win a championship this year if the Warriors had not cut him adrift. Still, get got into the playoffs with the Raptors -- it's no title, but it's better than being trapped on the Kings.
The other noteworthy thing about Thompson in 2015-16 is that he replaced poor, sad Anthony Bennett on the Raptors. For more than half the season, Toronto was trying to ride with a ten man roster and five spots given over to development projects. The group of Delon Wright, Norman Powell, Bruno Caboclo, Lucas Nogueira and Bennett were not quite ready for prime time. Some of them (namely Powell, with a little bit of Nogueira) would make their mark this year. Others (Wright) will make theirs soon. And some we continue to wait on (Bruno, obviously). As for Bennett, it was clear he was not long for the league.
Thompson may not have been a special player, or particularly flashy in any way, but he could at least be counted on to play a few minutes without getting embarrassed. Small victories, but still... victories.
Thompson played in 19 games for the Raptors (including six starts; wow, really?) and averaged a respectable 4.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, 0.5 assists, 0.4 steals, and 0.6 blocks in 15.4 minutes per game. He shot 48.5% from the field, 33.3% from three, and 81.8% from the free throw line.
March 20, 2016 vs. Orlando Magic
Go figure Thompson's best game of the season was the one in which he played the most. To help the Raptors win their fourth game in a row, Thompson put up eight points, while grabbing ten rebounds (including five on the offensive end) in almost 28 minutes. He only shot 29 percent from the field, but was clearly too much for the young guns on the Magic to handle -- he went to the free throw line five times. For a 29 year old big man at the end of the bench, this is all in a day's work.
Come on, Thompson's the 11-12th man on the team. Just let him grind in peace without too much judgement. And remember: it could always be worse. (Yikes, this is really becoming an Anthony Bennett dog-pile of a post. Sorry, Anth.)
Strengths and Weaknesses
+ Mobile, decent rebounder/defender, plays exactly how you'd expect a deep reserve big man to play
+ Not Anthony Bennett
- plays exactly how you'd expect a deep reserve big man to play
- not quite ready to be shooting 3s, I'd say
Role Next Season
Having left his long time home in Sacramento, Thompson, at 29, is now firmly in the journeyman portion of his career. He won't improve anymore, he won't do anything that wows you, he might not even play for long, long stretches. But every so often, Thompson will be called in to play a few minutes to finish a quarter, or he'll be pressed into service during some garbage time game deep in the winter months. There are worse fates for a 12th overall pick, I suppose.
In any case, the Raptors thank him for his service. So long, Jason. May the road protect you on your trek.
A GIF to Sum It All Up