There is no denying that the relationships between NBA players on and off-the-court has changed over the last 15 years. In this era of AAU basketball, powerhouse sports agents, mega sneaker contracts and social media, the majority of today’s NBA stars are well connected to each other and former players. Thus, they have no problem texting an on-the-court rival for advice or working out with a division foe in the off-season or reaching out to a retired hoops legend in order to learn a new move.
Magic, Larry and Mike would never have dreamed of doing such things.
Again, times have changed and so today we are launching a new series here at Philadunkia.com that works off the above premise regarding current NBA players and applies it to the members of the 76ers roster. Which current and/or former players should key members of the Sixers pursuit gym time with in order to develop and improve their game outside of Brett Brown’s watch?
Today, Michael Kaskey-Blomain offers his ideas for Hollis Thompson.
Scottie Pippen: Who better for Thompson to learn from than one of the premier players at the position? Both Pippen and Thompson stand at 6’8’’, and though Pippen has quite a few pounds on Thompson, they are of a similar body type. That there is a start; Pippen could advise Thompson on how to properly bulk up his body for the physical nature of playing the position while still remaining quick and nimble for perimeter play. Pippen was always conditioned excellently, a la Ray Allen, and could advise any player on how to sustain success throughout a career.
Pippen was a smart player, and Thompson could pick his brain about any aspect of the game. If anything, Thompson is already offensively inclined, so learning the other aspects of the game that made Pippen so effective would be beneficial. Defense, floor spacing, etc. Hollis is likely never going to be a top option, so he could learn from Pippen how to play off of players and look for opportunities as they present themselves. He could also pick up on Pippen’s dedication to defense. Developing into a premier perimeter player of the defensive end would add another angle to Thompson’s game that would increase his versatility, and make him very valuable.
Pippen would be an excellent option to teach Thompson about some aspects of the game other than strictly scoring, as he could show him how to make an impact in a multitude of ways.
Mike Miller: Mike Miller has never been the most athletic player, but he has made the most of his abilities and enjoyed a long and successful career. Miller is largely viewed as a three-point specialist, which is how Thompson was seen after the season. Miller could teach Thompson some tricks of the trade of how to be an efficient, and oft-times lethal three-point shooter over the span of a decade. Small things like reading a defense, or knowing exactly how to prepare for a pass, that are picked up over time and years of playing, Miller could share with Thompson.
Like Miller, Thompson will likely never be a team’s main offensive option, but, he could develop into an important piece on a team with other options. Who better to learn that from than a dude who has just done it?
Andre Iguodala: Although he is not Philadelphia’s favorite, Andre Iguodala is a premier perimeter player in the League, and could teach a player like Hollis Thompson a whole lot about great perimeter play on both ends of the ball. Like with Scottie Pippen, Thompson would benefit from learning about defense and being a complimentary option on offense from Iguodala, who is excellent at both. Good old ‘Dre could give Thompson some ideas on how to attack players on the perimeter, and how to use his length to shut down passing lanes.
As an All-Star and a gold medalist, there is a lot Thompson could learn from Iguodala, as long as he doesn’t try to emulate his three-point stroke.
Joe Johnson: ‘Iso Joe’ could teach Thompson two important aspects of the offensive end; how to create your own offense, and how to be clutch. The clutch factor may not be teachable, but as a solid shooter with size, Thompson may come to be looked at in some clutch shooting situations, and in that situation, who better to learn from than Joe? Johnson has quite a history of hitting tough, clutch shots. While he can’t teach clutchness, he could tell Thompson some tactics he uses to approach big shots and when to know if a shot is a good one to take.
Thompson is a solid spot-up shooter, but he was unable to make much happen on his own last season. He demonstrated an improved ability to beat a defender off of the dribble and take the ball to the basket in Orlando this summer, but he would definitely benefit from expanding his offensive arsenal. To be fully effective, Thompson should be a threat to not only shoot, but to take it to the rack, and open up his own opportunities.
Michael Kaskey-Blomain is a scribe for Philadunkia.
You can follow him on Twitter @therealmikeKB.
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