Thursday, May 24, 2012
Clippers report cards: Thompkins & Leslie
By Arash Markazi
The first run of “Lob City” may not have ended the way some within the Los Angeles Clippers organization would have liked but everyone understands its still a work in progress. With half the roster up for new contracts in the coming weeks and months, there’s also a good chance the team will have new look next season.
Before we look too far into the future though, let's look back at the Clippers’ roster last season and see how it graded out and how it will look moving forward.
We start off the grades with Trey Thompkins and Travis Leslie, the two rookies the Clippers drafted out of Georgia in the second round last year. Thompkins and Leslie were born two months apart, were selected 10 picks apart and sat one locker apart from each other. They had so much common, they even shared the same lack of playing time this season.
2011-12 contributions: No one on the Clippers was a bigger consistent cheerleader on the bench than Thompkins, who could usually be found draped over the back of DeAndre Jordan or another teammate after a big dunk late in the game. He appeared in 23 games during the season and averaged 2.4 points and 1.0 rebounds in 5.0 minutes. His best game was during the Clippers’ 107-81 win over the Washington Wizards on Feb. 4 when he had 2 points, 7 rebounds and 1 blocked shot while playing the entire fourth quarter.
2012-13 prediction: Thompkins figures into the Clippers’ future plans fairly prominently as general manager Neil Olshey said the team would be in the market for a “stretch four” and Thompkins fits the bill in case they can't find one in free agency. He’s a versatile forward who can play inside and outside. He has a nice jump shot and was a consistent three-point shooter in practice. If the Clippers can’t land someone outside the current roster to fill that "stretch four" position, Thompkins could see himself in the regular rotation next season.
2011-12 contributions: It was a difficult rookie season for Leslie, who only played in 10 games and was assigned to the Bakersfield Jam of the NBA Development League for two separate stints before returning to the Clippers at the end of the season. While he didn’t want to be away from his teammates, Leslie made the most of his time in Bakersfield, averaging 12.5 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 21.0 minutes. While with the Clippers, Leslie only averaged 1.4 points, 0.9 rebounds and 0.5 assists in 4.5 minutes.
2012-13 prediction: Depending on what the Clippers do in free agency, it’s hard to see Leslie getting much more time in the rotation next season. He’s an athletic, albeit undersized shooting guard, who can finish at the basket and has been known to put on highlight reel plays in practice on par with Eric Bledsoe, but the Clippers are already two-deep at both guard positions. Leslie isn’t going anywhere but barring injuries or a trade, he’ll probably be spending a good amount of time on the bench again next season.