In high school, Shevon Thompson averaged 32 points and 15 rebounds including a 57-point explosion. Where was Thompson able to do this? This is in his home country of Jamaica. Five years ago, Thompson decided to come to the US and after his various stops across the country — including two years at George Mason University — he has just completed his rookie season in the NBA D-League, tallying 12.1 points per game and 7.5 rebounds per game.
Throughout his various stops, one constant has always remained for Thompson; his rebounding abilities. At Harcum College, he finished as their fifth leading rebounder in just two seasons, as the majority of players at Harcum play three years. Meanwhile at George Mason, he was able to do the same, averaging 11 rebounds for his career.
And once you start diving into Thompson’s film, that is immediately the strength of his game. He has an innate ability to track the ball, something that likely goes back to his history of playing soccer. He not only grew up playing soccer, something that many greats (Hakeem Olajuwon, Steve Nash, etc.) did, but he grew up playing goalie. Goalie is the position that inherently forces people to track the ball in flight, along with continuing to work on footwork.
A closer look shows that Thompson’s specific strength is his ability on the offensive glass. He combines his ball-tracking skills, his 7’0” frame and a soft touch around the rim.
His knack for finding the offensive rebound is his #1 skill and the one that could land him on an NBA roster next season.
On the defensive rebounding side, Thompson hasn’t quite picked up the tricks of the trade. He rebounds the ball when it comes to him, but rarely do you see the former Patriot “rebound outside of his area”. This is a skill that develops as young big men gain experience. An example of this is DeAndre Jordan. Jordan, in his age 22 season, had a defensive rebounding rate around 21%, similar to what Thompson’s was this past season in Erie. Jordan carried the same motor and energy as Thompson as well as a knack for offensive rebounding as well. The Clippers center has been able to turn those cat-like reflexes into an all-star career.
So, Thompson has his uncanny rebounding ability and broad shoulders, where does that leave his post-game? Thompson, being a lefty, already has an upper hand on defenders as they are forced to think of most everything they see in opposite. Thompson is graced with a soft touch within eight feet of the tin and can finish very capably going over his right shoulder.
He also did this, which, is... WOW.
The rest of his post moves don’t look as smooth. The best word to describe them is clunky but, with the experience factor, has plenty of room to grow. Thompson can look to develop his counter moves, as well as improve his passing out of the post.
Once Thompson is forced to face up, his game changes. He isn’t much of a threat to hit a shot outside of the key, something that must improve. The jumper isn’t broken, as he shoots 66% from the free throw line, a sign that there is room to improve, especially with his lack of basketball experience.
The other side of the court is where the case gets quite curious for Thompson. When you look at a seven-footer standing at 225 pounds, you think of a defensive terror for teams. But, that is something that Thompson is not. The big man is still learning how to adapt to the speed of the American game, and his defense is what is withholding him from getting a shot with an NBA team.
If he can improve his rim-protection (just .4 blocks in 21 minutes per game) and position himself just a split second quicker, he has the potential to be an above average defender. Along with those physical traits, just playing in the Summer League and D-League is the best way for him to improve on defense by getting more reps.
After averaging an impressive 17.8 points and 9.4 rebounds (4.4 offensive) per game on 61% from the field, it would seem that Shevon Thompson has a legitimate chance to get a call-up next season. That call-up would come if Thompson can refine his post-game, continue to expand the jump shot to 15 feet and learn how to rotate and play defense. Think of how many years everyone else has been playing this sport as opposed to Thompson. As a wise man once said, “The ceiling is the roof” for this guy. The call isn’t as far off as some may think.