When news broke of Klay Thompson's official decision to declare for the NBA draft, I felt a mixture of emotions. Disappointment I wouldn't get watch him don the crimson and gray again, sadness at the thought of wearing pants throughout next season, anger at the maintenance guy who forgot to take the lid off the Madison Square Garden rim in Thompson's final game.
Now that the initial reaction period has passed, I have to say I'm excited. Not because Thompson is likely gone, that still blows, but instead, I'm excited to have a reason to follow the NBA draft and excited to watch Thompson develop at the next level.
Some argued Thompson should return to school and improve his stock with a strong senior season, but success in the NBA is often less about your draft status and more about opportunity. In the right situation, Thompson could develop into an NBA all-star. If he goes to the wrong team, however, he might be the next leading scorer of the NBDL.
So where exactly does Thompson fit in the NBA?
The Best Fit: Chicago Bulls
I find it amazing a team with the best regular season record and the favorite to win the NBA Finals could have such a void in the backcourt. Derrick Rose is one of the best players in the NBA, but beyond the likely NBA MVP, the Bulls backcourt features an assortment of journeymen.
Kyle Korver, Keith Bogans and Ronnie Brewer combined to play the majority of shooting guard minutes for the Bulls and while each player has their own strengths, none of which have the rounded skills of Thompson. Bogans is the definition of a NBA nomad changing teams seven times in his seven-year career. Brewer is essentially the Bulls version of Marcus Capers, a defensive minded guard who's classified as a shooter in position title only. Korver is one of the NBA's most accurate 3-point shooters, but his only other skill is confusing kids into thinking he is Ashton Kutcher.
Beyond the opportunity to play, Chicago would allow Thompson to settle initially into a role as a shooter and fourth scoring option behind Rose, Carlos Boozer and Luol Deng. Rose attracts the best perimeter defender, freeing up Thompson to roam the perimeter and display his sweet jump shot.
The Thompson Family Choice: Los Angeles Lakers
Thompson hasn't been shy about his desire to play for his hometown Lakers. I would be shocked if he hasn't thought about playing alongside one of his idols Kobe Bryant, only to take over the spotlight when Bryant eventually retires. It's a dream scenario, and one that wouldn't be that bad of a fit.
Bryant has over 1300 games under his belt and is in decline. Beyond him, the Lakers backcourt features Shannon Brown, Steve Blake and the fossil known as Derek Fisher. Brown has carved out a nice niche with the Lakers, but he is a free agent after this season and could bolt for a better opportunity, leaving Thompson to vie for his 20 MPG.
As a Laker, Thompson wouldn't be much more than a seventh or eighth man initially, but the aging Lakers provide ample opportunity down the road. A couple of development seasons playing behind Bryant might be beneficial in the end.
The Worst Fit: Miami Heat
Thompson's initial role in the NBA will likely be as a reserve scorer or spot up shooter. Going to the Heat, Thompson couldn't expect to see many shots playing behind LeBron James and Dwayne Wade and would be redundant to Mike Miller who's playing in the first year of a five-year contract.
In Miami, Thompson would likely battle Eddie House for mop up duty minutes. Off the court, there is the fear James' fashion taste might rub off on Thompson and he would end up wearing something like this.
No, God, Please No: Oklahoma City
I'll let Michael Scott handle the reaction to this scenario.
Other Good Fits
New Orleans Hornets - Playing alongside Chris Paul would be nice and the Hornets aren't exactly deep at shooting guard with Marco Belinelli and Willie Green
New Jersey Nets - "Deron Williams drives and kicks out to Thompson for three...good!" - Nets announcer for the next three seasons.
Milwaukee Bucks - Michael Redd is a free agent, John Salmons is coming off a down year and I have a friend with Bucks season tickets so if I'm ever in Milwaukee good for me.
Other Bad Fits
Golden State Warriors - Thompson can do better than fight for scraps left over after Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis take 35 shots.
Atlanta Hawks - Joe Johnson just inked a long-term deal to play shooting guard in Atlanta and Jamal Crawford has the scoring sixth man role down. Thompson might not get a chance to do much more than perfect his bench celebration.
Philadelphia 76ers - They drafted Evan Turner second overall to fill a similar role last year and have Andre Iguodala signed long term.