Utah Jazz: Alec Burks, Klay Thompson strut their stuff for Jazz brass
Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — It's been a given two subjects would be brought up — by NBA teams and media — everywhere Klay Thompson went during his pre-draft tour.
His hoops heritage, for one thing, which is to be expected when your dad is a former successful pro basketball player with three NBA championship rings.
And the other sure-bet topic for Mychal Thompson's son?
The Washington State shooting guard's well-publicized run-in with the law this past spring.
In March, Klay Thompson was cited for marijuana possession near the Cougars' campus — a blight that resulted in a one-game suspension, plenty of embarrassment and a learning opportunity.
Both subjects were talking points for Thompson, a potential lottery pick, after he worked out for the Jazz on Monday along with Colorado's Alec Burks and four players who aren't likely to be selected by Utah with the third or 12th picks in Thursday's draft.
Thompson quickly owned up to the drug incident in March, and he's trying to convince NBA teams that that way of life is in his past.
"I just had to be truthful about it and honest because NBA teams are smarter than you," Thompson said about his decision to come clean about the drug incident. "So they'll find out whatever they need to know, and honesty is just the best way to go."
Corbin said the Jazz wouldn't hold the incident against Thompson, whose draft stock seems to be rising, because of how he reacted and moved on.
"We always look at guys' character. I think he's done a great job of stepping up and taking responsibility for what happened, and we'll just move on from there," Corbin said. "We'll continue to critique the different parts of who he is. The team always does a great job of finding out things about guys before they tend to draft them, so I know we'll do our homework on him."
Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor also said that would be talked about in the team's interview with Thompson (after the media session), but the fact he was still invited to audition for Utah indicates the team has interest in him.
"The key thing is you try to do all of your background work and you try to determine with anybody whether the incident was isolated or a consistent problem or issue," O'Connor said. "That's the thing that we've got to take into account and figure out. It's public knowledge what happened."
Thompson said he's leaned on his dad, who played 12 seasons with the Blazers and Lakers after being selected No. 1 overall in 1978 by Portland. They talk to each other about every other day (Thompson also talks often to his mom and two brothers), and the sharpshooting NBA hopeful is trying to follow his father's advice to seize this opportunity, become stronger and build his endurance to be able to battle against some of the best athletes in the world.
"I'm just thankful he's there," Thompson said of his father. "He's been there (in the NBA) for 12 years. He has a lot of knowledge of the game."
While his dad was a solid big man in the league, the younger Thompson has made his hoops hay from outside. The 6-7 first-team All-Pac-10 player shot 42.4 percent from college 3-point range in his three years at WSU, and he feels confident his range extends beyond the NBA's arc.
Burks believes he can provide a similar deep threat for an NBA squad.
"I feel like it went great for me," said the 6-foot-6 Burks, who entered the draft after his sophomore season with the Buffs.
Burks predicted he'll be drafted somewhere in the top 14 — an assumption the NBA also made because it invited him to wait in the prestigious green room along with 14 other highly projected players (Thompson as well).
"I just wanted to show them (the Jazz) that I can make a jumper, the NBA 3 consistently," Burks said. "They already know about all of my other game. I just want to prove I can shoot an NBA 3. I think I proved that today."
Burks hit 49.5 percent of his field goals in two seasons at Colorado, but he only shot 31.3 percent from the shorter long-range distance.
This was the final pre-draft workout for the Jazz, who were hoping to also take a look at San Diego State small forward Kawhi Leonard. But the former Aztec star canceled on the Jazz, who did get to interview him at the Chicago combine.
"What I would read into it," O'Connor said, "is that he probably thinks that he's going before 12 and we're not going to drat him at three."
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