MILWAUKEE — Washington State standout Klay Thompson is rising up draft boards around the NBA after some polished performances in individual workouts for a dozen teams.
Thompson was at it again Wednesday for the Milwaukee Bucks, who are well aware like everyone else in the NBA of Thompson’s pedigree.
He’s the middle son of former No. 1 overall draft pick Mychal Thompson, who was picked by Portland in 1978 and went on to win three NBA titles with the Lakers.
“Once he gets into the workout, much like the European players, he’s so fundamentally sound that going to the workouts are really a benefit to him and the teams looking at him,” Bucks scouting director Billy McKinney said.
Klay Thompson has had to grow up quickly after dealing with a marijuana citation near the Pullman campus. He was suspended for one game after the March incident.
“I’m not going to say I’m happy it happened, but it was almost good it happened sooner or later because I was going down the wrong path and if I want to fulfill my potential and play in this league, I can’t be messing around with that stuff,” Thompson said. “I haven’t done it since.”
The 21-year-old was a sharpshooter at Washington State, with the type of height and length that NBA scouts fawn over — he’s 6-foot-7 and can play point guard, shooting guard or small forward. He finished first on the Cougars’ all-time list in 3-point field goals (242) and third in points (1,756) in just three seasons.
Thompson also has some inside knowledge of the Bucks. His older brother, Mychel, worked out for the team on Tuesday and the boys are both friends with Bucks point guard Brandon Jennings.
“I think I’d be a perfect fit playing alongside Brandon, that kid is great with the ball,” Klay Thompson said. “I can stretch the floor, be a great threat from the off-guard position and be a complete guard — defend, rebound, pass, do whatever coach asks me to do.”
Milwaukee picks 10th in next Thursday’s draft and the organization is interested in Thompson. Colorado’s Alec Burks and Texas’ Jordan Hamilton are in the mix, too.
Thompson is hoping to move past the questions about the marijuana citation. He must appear before authorities on July 7 and provide a clean drug test for the incident to be removed from his record. The citation included a $500 fine.
His father was critical of his son’s decisions at the time, saying Klay had embarrassed himself and let down his teammates and his school. Klay Thompson was more embarrassed.
“He was really disappointed, but I think I was the most upset at myself,” Thompson said. “I learned a tremendous amount about myself, just being able to apologize in front of my fans and it was a humbling experience. I’m glad I went through it and fought through it.”
Thompson also has had to answer the question repeatedly for every team looking to invest the future of their franchises in him.
“It’s understandable. It’s humbling,” he said. “I just tell them the truth, because if you don’t, they’re going to find out either way.”
Mychal Thompson was selected No. 1 overall in a draft that featured Larry Bird going sixth to Boston. The 6-foot-10 Thompson played with three teams in 12 NBA seasons, including the Spurs and Lakers. He won three titles in 1987, 1988 and 1991 as a top reserve with Los Angeles.
That experience has helped Klay, McKinney said, but only to a point.
“I’d say one of the things that matters a lot is that he’s had a tremendous amount of experience talking to his dad about the transition to the NBA,” McKinney said. “The bottom line is, you can have a father that’s played, but you’ve got to get it done between the lines, and Klay has proven he can do that on a consistent basis.”