Iavaroni, the Phoenix Suns assistant who is coaching their summer league team, touches on a host of topics in this interview, including his perception of Thompson:
He’s good in the open court. He makes very smart basketball plays, he’s unselfish and he just wants to find a way to get the ball to the basket or to the open man. We’ve been very pleased with that. He can shoot it, (but) he’s a little streaky from beyond the three-point arc. We’re still working on that. We, as a team, have not shot well (from beyond the arc), so we’re in a little bit of a three-point slump and I’m sure he’s not happy with his performance there. His range can be extended and made more consistent, because it is further than the college three-point line.
Defensively, he’s made strides. He’s playing harder and he’s playing lower. He’s a long, lean guy who’s got very long legs, so that makes it tougher to defend, but he’s learning. You’ve got to play with your body, beef up your body. You’ve got to dish it out and know where you’re going to end up taking it. So, it’s usually your choice.
Personally, he’s a sweet kid. I like him a lot as a guy. But, you can be that way off the court. Leandro [Barbosa]’s a sweet guy too and he’s one of my favorites. But, Leandro’s a killer on the court and he wants to beat people, and compete, do whatever it takes. I think that’s something Dijon is going to have to find out, as well. He’s more like Jamal Wilkes, if I can bring up an old-time name. Everybody has to be themselves, but you just want to make sure that in the process of being yourself, you’re not creating a weakness, that you’re always trying to improve yourself.
Jamal Wilkes is good company, but it sounds like Iavaroni believes what everyone else does: that Thompson needs to improve defensively and become more intense on the court. If Thompson can get better in those areas, he could end up being a productive NBA player.