Some NBA teams peg Klay in lottery, says dad

KLAY THOMPSON's dad, Mychal Thompson, says he's hearing good news from NBA representatives about his son. And that could mean bad news for Washington State.

Mychal, a 12-year veteran of the NBA, said Wednesday that some NBA teams are projecting Klay Thompson as a lottery pick -- one of the first 14 overall selections -- for the June 23 draft.

"He's a first-rounder," Mychal said. "If he's not, there's something wrong."

College players have until April 24 to declare for the draft. They can retain their college eligibility if they withdraw their name by May 8 and do not sign with an agent.

Thompson said his son wants to make a decision as soon as possible "to be fair to Washington State and (coach) Ken Bone."

Thompson added, "You want to keep all your options open until the last possible moment."

Chad Ford, the NBA draft expert of ESPN, predicts Thompson will be drafted 41st overall (11th in the second round).

"He's just not a Klay fan," Mychal said.

TheDraftReview.com has Thompson going 36th. DraftExpress.com and nbadraft.net don't list Thompson among the 60 players that will be drafted.

"They have no knowledge of basketball," Mychal said.

The elder Thompson, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft by Portland in 1978, has retained close ties with the NBA through his work as a Los Angeles Lakers broadcaster.

"I'm putting in some calls (to general managers and scouts) around the league … just doing some exploratory talks, as they say, and ‘investigations,'" Thompson said. "They all like him. They all think he's definitely a pro prospect.

"I'm hearing positive things about skills and his ability to play at the next level, so I'm hearing good stuff. No one's told me he's a stiff yet. Maybe they're just trying to be nice to me."

Thompson knows better. Klay, a junior guard, ranked 11th in NCAA Division I with 21.6 points per game. That led the Pacific-10 Conference, and Klay made a statement about his overall game by averaging 5.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.7 steals.

"He's one of the two best guards in the country along with (Colorado's) Alec Burks," Mychal said.

ESPN's Ford ranks Burks first and Thompson fifth among shooting guards.

If Thompson elects to turn pro this year, Mychal said his son's draft slot "all depends on the workouts" that most draft prospects go through with individual teams. Mychal said the importance placed on those workouts "is crazy and dumb" compared to game production.

Thompson said his son proved beyond all doubt that can play in the NBA when he poured in 43 points in a loss to Washington at the Pacific-10 Conference tournament.

"That's all I would have needed to see," Thompson said. "I would have left after 10 minutes."

Thompson's broadcast duties forced him to miss the game, since the Lakers were in Miami. Thompson did watch the game on television.

"Unfortunately," Thompson said with a laugh, "I WAS in New York."

Thompson was referring to WSU's final game, a blowout loss to Wichita State in the National Invitation Tournament semifinals. Klay scored a season-low six points on 1-for-10 shooting.

"Oh my goodness," Thompson said. "What a time to pick to have your worst game of the year, as a team and an individual."

Thompson, typically candid when discussing his son or most anything else, added, "The reason why I thought Washington State played bad is because their best player didn't bring it. I mean, two quick fouls. Like I keep telling Klay, ‘You just can't do that.'"

Thompson blasted his son publicly when Klay was cited for misdemeanor marijuana possession last month. Klay was suspended for the UCLA game, but the younger Thompson earned points with his father and plenty of other people when he addressed the crowd before the game and apologized.

"It really impressed me," Thompson said. "He manned up. He may have become a man that day."

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