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Appreciating The Greatness Of Kyle Weaver (And, By Extension, Klay Thompson)

Our favorite WSU beat writer, Vince Grippi, returned from his hibernation today to write a nice piece checking in on former Cougar basketball star Kyle Weaver, who has bounced around quite a bit -- including a 10-day contract with the Utah Jazz last year -- in his three years as a professional.

With the NBA lockout underway, a lot of players -- even some high profile ones -- are taking their games to Europe until its over. Weaver is not exception, as he'll begin next season, coincidentally, with the same German team on which Taylor Rochestie spent the past the past two years.

"With the lockout, I didn’t want to wait," Weaver said earlier in the week from his hometown of Beloit, Wis. "Not having a guarantee or anything, I wanted to not only continue to play, but still have that exposure."

And, as Weaver sees it, Europe isn’t a bad place to be.

For now.

"I don’t see myself as an overseas player," he said. "I think it’s easy to kind of put a tag on yourself, and for other people to put a tag on you as well. That comes with the sport. Everybody is seen as something.

"You get so many different views of who you are, you may get lost in that."

I bring the story to your attention for two reasons.

First, WSU stories have been more infrequent this offseason than I can ever remember -- I guess, though, that means nobody's getting arrested ... so there's that! -- and it's nice to read something that's not just making up storylines until training camp starts. (Guilty as charged.)

Second, it's fun to look back and remember just how awesome some of the guys in the past were. It was only four seasons ago that we were rumbling through Notre Dame to the Sweet 16, but in a lot of ways it feels like another life. So remembering is important.

Weaver -- at 6-foot-6 and 200 pounds -- was amazing in his versatility. In 2008, he finished in the top 15 in the Pac-10 in defensive rebounding percentage (14th), assist rate (5th), block percentage (13th), steal percentage (5th), free throw rate (4th), fouls drawn per 40 minutes (9th) and fouls called per 40 minutes (11th). He wasn't a crazy efficient offensive player -- "just" a 104 offensive rating, third among guys who used 22 percent or more of possessions -- but his contributions on defense while logging more than 80 percent of the minutes made him the best, and most important, player on that team.

But as I was looking at Weaver, I wondered how Klay Thompson compared. Here are the final seasons for each:

Ht Wt Yr G %Min ORtg %Pos %Shots eFG% TS% OR% DR% ARate TORate
Kyle Weaver, 2008 6-6 201 Sr 35 81.9 104.8 26 21.2 50.3 56.1 4.5 16.4 28.5 21.5
Klay Thompson, 2011 6-6 200 Jr 34 83.3 106.5 32 33.4 52.5 57.4 2.5 14 24.8 17.6

Blk% Stl% FC/40 FD/40 FTRate FTM-FTA Pct 2PM-2PA Pct 3PM-3PA Pct
Kyle Weaver, 2008 2.6 3.5 2.3 4.9 57.7 126/172 0.733 114/232 0.491 24/66 0.364
Klay Thompson, 2011 3.1 2.7 3.4 5.4 33.6 155/185 0.838 142/305 0.466 98/246 0.398


The point of this exercise isn't to try and figure out who was better. Thompson's offense far surpasses Weaver's, but he did it in a much weaker conference than Weaver did; a number of Weaver's peripheral stats were better than Thompson's, but his teammates were a lot better, too.*

*Do you realize that 2008 team had only ONE player with an offensive rating under 100? And FIVE players with an offensive rating of 110 or better? The 2011 Cougars had two players with an ORtg of 110 or better -- Brock Motum and Marcus Capers, at 19.1 and 11.6 percent usage, respectively. The 2008 team had two guys with ratings over 110 who each used more than 22 percent -- Derrick Low and Aron Baynes. Those were the days. And, by the way, if you're going to try and use this information to slam Thompson and say "Look at how Weaver was able to elevate the level of play of his teammates!", you're selling the rest of that 2008 team short. Those were some damn fine players, any one of which would have been the second best player on the 2011 team. 

No, the interesting part to me is how history remembers each of these guys. Weaver is remembered fondly as the linchpin of perhaps the greatest team in school history, while Thompson is remembered as the leader of the post-Bennett era Cougars who couldn't get to the NCAA tournament. Yet they are remarkably similar in terms of statistical metrics.

Is that how it should be? I don't know. While I'm disappointed Thompson didn't ever make the NCAAs, I choose not to let it detract from his individual skill, which I found so very intoxicating. But I also appreciate what Weaver was able to accomplish in the midst of some really good teammates.

I guess there's not really much of a point to this. Just something I found interesting.