For months the Warriors had been pursuing the All-Star power forward, but the inclusion of their rising shooting guard was a deal breaker.
As Team USA won a gold medal in Spain, it was evident why the team was hesitant to include Thompson in the deal as his precision shooting and dominant defensive abilities are a rare combination, especially at the shooting guard position.
The Warriors sent its back court to Spain to help the United States claim its second consecutive title at the FIBA World Cup of Basketball and his time overseas may not only help him round out his game, but develop further with All-Star point guard Stephen Curry.
The duo ranked first and second in 3-point field goals made, combining to make 484 shots from beyond the arc, 79 more than the entire Grizzlies team made last season.
The main goal the Warriors, along with fantasy owners, are hoping for next season is some diversity to his game.
Thompson averaged a career-high 18.4 points, but added just 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. The impact he made defensively didn’t show up in his statistics, as he posted less than one steal per game.
Numerous players have flourished following their stints with Team USA and Thompson is poised to bring back a different focus to Golden State.
In just 23 minutes a game during the tournament, Thompson averaged 12.7 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.0 steals per game.
In an expanded role with the Warriors, Thompson should round out the rest of his game.
30. C.J. Miles– Indiana Pacers
Suddenly forced into a prominent role within the Pacers offense, Miles faces a tough task. The 27-year-old lefty has never really found his position, originally lining up at point guard, switching to small forward then settling in as a reserve shooting guard. Injuries have now forced him into a starting role, but a jump in production is unlikely, as Miles has never averaged more than 13 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.o assists or 1.0 steals per game in his career. Indiana will likely feature a heavy rotation with Miles and Rodney Stuckey, another former point guard acquired in free agency this summer.
29. Iman Shumpert– New York Knicks
New York has been trying to deal Shumpert for nearly two years, nearly sending him to Oklahoma City before the draft for the Thunder’s first round selection. Following an impressive rookie campaign, Shumpert has seen his field goal shooting, scoring and assist averages decrease each of the past two seasons, and with J.R. Smith looming on the bench, it’s difficult to see Shumpert providing a consistent impact in New York.
28. Alec Burks– Utah Jazz
The 12th overall pick of the 2011 NBA Draft was able to show why he was considered one of the most pure scorers at the shooting guard position last year, nearly doubling his career average to score 14 points a night. Burks was at his best when lining up at point guard, like when he surprised Miami with a 31 point, seven assist, four steal effort early in the season. Utah has since drafted two point guards likely limiting the chances Burks will have to be the featured player in the offense.
27. Courtney Lee– Memphis Grizzlies
The shift to Memphis at the trade deadline led to much more productivity from Lee, as he averaged 11 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and just under a steal per game in 45 appearances with his new team. Lee’s limited shooting range, as he has never converted over 87 field goals from 3-point range during his six-year career could become a problem for a team that ranked last in long range shooting last season, converting just 4.9 attempts from beyond the arc each night.
26. Ben McLemore– Sacramento Kings
The selection of Nik Stauskas with the eighth overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft has to be concerning for McLemore, a lottery pick himself just a year earlier. The former Kansas star shot just 37.6 percent from the field and averaged more turnovers than assists. During the 2014 Summer League tournament in Las Vegas, McLemore did emerge as one of the top players for the champion Kings, averaging 12.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and shot 44.6 percent from the field, those types of numbers should be enough to keep him in the starting lineup this season.
25. Avery Bradley– Boston Celtics
The Celtics agreed to a four-year $32 million extension with Bradley over the summer after he posted career-highs with 14.9 points and 3.8 rebounds a game. Bradley has an extremely limited game, as he never dished out more than four assists in any of his 60 appearances and has posted just one double-double in 205 career appearances. Even when he was able to find his shooting touch, it rarely led to success for the Celtics, as the team went 6-9 in games where he scored 20 or more points.
24. Jodie Meeks– Detroit Pistons
The injury to Kobe Bryant forced Meeks into a much more prominent role with the Lakers, and for extended stretches, he delivered. The former Kentucky standout posted career-highs with 15.7 points, 2.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 1.4 steals per game. Meeks was even the catalyst to an unexpected victory over Oklahoma City on national television, as he poured in 42 points, the most of his career, knocking down six attempts from 3-point range and converting each of his 14 attempts at the free throw line to go along with four steals.
23. Jimmy Butler– Chicago Bulls
No player encapsulates the difference between fantasy success and actual contributions than Butler. The 6-foot-7 guard is eligible for a contract extension, with reports surfacing about one executive believing Butler is worth a max contract. For fantasy purposes, the ceiling for Butler appears to be pretty low, as he converted just 28.3 percent of his attempts from 3-point range with his most redeeming quality being the 1.9 steals he averaged per game. It will be evident exactly how much the Bulls value his play with the offer they present before the Oct. 31 deadline.
22. Danny Green– San Antonio Spurs
Following his breakout campaign during the 2013 NBA playoffs, Green continued his hot shooting from long range, converting 41.5 percent of his attempts from 3-point range last season. For his career, Green is posting 1.8 made 3-point field goals a game and converting 42.1 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc, making him a reasonable specialty player for any fantasy owners seeking long range shooting production later in the draft.
21. Terrence Ross– Toronto Raptors
Ross became one of the hottest fantasy commodity following one of the most unexpected performances all of last season. Against the Clippers, the second year guard poured in 51 points, converting 10 times from 3-point range and grabbing nine rebounds, but the game ultimately proved to be an aberration. The point total ultimately proved to be more than double than any other game he played in last season and it took Ross 12 games to log another 20 point outing. Simply because of his ability to explode at any point, he jumps a few places in the rankings.
20. Dion Waiters– Cleveland Cavaliers
Ever since he was selected with the fourth overall pick of the 2012 NBA Draft, Waiters has taken turns with Kyrie Irving controlling the offense in Cleveland. The influx of talent will either force Waiters to become more of a complimentary piece in the starting lineup, or slightly freeze him out of the offense. No longer the second option, it’ll be a challenge for Waiters to replicate the 15.9 points, 3.0 assists and 2.8 rebounds he averaged a year ago.
19. Tony Wroten– Philadelphia 76ers
After spending most of his tenure with Memphis playing in the NBA Developmental League, Wroten was given a chance in Philadelphia and quietly put together an impressive fantasy season. The 6-foot-5 guard dominated when he was in the starting lineup, averaging 17.8 points, 5.2 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. Those inflated numbers came when he was filling in for Michael Carter-Williams, the 76ers are hoping he can remain productive alongside him this season.
18. J.J. Redick– Los Angeles Clippers
Issues with his back limited Redick’s first season in Los Angeles to just 35 games, but when he was in the lineup, its offense was nearly unstoppable. The long range specialist averaged career-highs with 15.2 points and 2.1 made 3-pointers a game while adding 2.2 assists per game. Any players from an offense that averaged 107.9 points a game last season are worth adding later in the draft, even with Redick’s health problems.
17. Eric Gordon– New Orleans Pelicans
It remains to be seen if Tyreke Evans or Gordon will ultimately become the sixth man in New Orleans. Once Jrue Holiday went down with a fractured leg, Evans became the most reliable back court player for the Pelicans, Gordon became available on the trade market. Once again various injuries limited the former Indiana stars productivity, as he posted 15.4 points, 3.3 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game. Gordon can be a productive player, but it will be unlikely for him to ever duplicate what he achieved during his final season with the Clippers.
16. Kevin Martin– Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves have an interesting problem at the shooting guard position, either play Martin, a potent scorer that averaged 19.1 points and shot 38.7 percent from 3-point range, to try and make a run at the playoffs in the loaded Western Conference, or feature the newly acquired Andrew Wiggins and aim for success in the draft lottery. Martin could be moved and has proven in his time with Oklahoma City he can still be productive, even as a reserve.
15. Giannis Antetokounmpo– Milwaukee Bucks
Some of the plays Antetokounmpo is capable of making has experts projecting him to be the best player to come out of the 2013 NBA Draft class. During his rookie campaign, Antetokounmpo averaged 6.8 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game as he adapted to the American style of play. Since then, he has grown another two inches, now standing 6-foot-11 and Milwaukee has experimented with the idea of lining him up at point guard. For all of the predictions to come true, Antetokounmpo has to prove he is worth keeping on the floor more than the 24.6 minutes a game he averaged last season and over come his bouts with inconsistency.
14. Reggie Jackson– Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder have been seeking a third scorer ever since trading James Harden before the start of Jackson’s rookie season. At times, the player born in Italy was a potent scorer, but that mostly came when he was the replacement starting point guard. An entire training camp with Jackson featured as the starting shooting guard, should give him enough time to define his role and find a way to provide consistent scoring as an option alongside Oklahoma City’s pair of All-Stars.
13. Wesley Matthews– Portland Trail Blazers
If Matthews is able to return as a defensive stalwart, such as when he averaged 1.5 steals a game two years ago, he could become one of the most complete players at his position. Matthews averaged 16.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists and shot 39.3 percent from 3-point range. In his fourth season with the Trail Blazers, the former Marquette star provided a consistent scoring punch, logging 20 or more points on 24 occasions, with his team posting a 19-5 record in those contests.
12. Victor Oladipo– Orlando Magic
The experiment of Oladipo becoming a point guard barely lasted half a season, as the Magic continuously shuffled its starting lineup and rarely turned the ball over to its star rookie. Orlando dealt for its point guard of the future on draft night this year, moving Oladipo back to his more natural shooting guard position. Last season, he averaged 13.8 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Oladipo could become one of the most improve players in fantasy basketball, making a deal just before the start of the 2014 NBA Draft to give him a permanent slot in the starting lineup.
11. Arron Afflalo– Denver Nuggets
To match Derek Harper’s NBA record of increasing their scoring average eight consecutive seasons, Afflalo will have to surpass the 18.2 points per game he averaged last season in Orlando. Dealt to Denver just before the start of the NBA Draft, Afflalo nearly earned a place on the Eastern Conference All-Star team after averaging 3.6 rebounds, 3.4 assists and shooting 42.7 percent from 3-point range. The Nuggets have been seeking productivity from the shooting guard position for years and hope Afflalo is a worthwhile place holder as Gary Harris develops off the bench.
10. Kyle Korver– Atlanta Hawks
Last season, Korver saw his streak of 127 consecutive games with a made 3-point field goal come to an end, but that didn’t stop him from proving to be one of the most prolific long range shooters in the league. Korver once again led the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage, knocking down 47.2 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc. In addition to the 3-point shooting boost he provides fantasy teams, Korver averaged 12 points, 4.0 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.o steals per game and shot 92.6 percent at the foul line.
9. Bradley Beal– Washington Wizards
Washington displayed the ultimate confidence in Beal before he even played in an NBA game, refusing to include him in a deal that could have potentially landed James Harden. As he enters his third season in the league, the Wizards need Beal to elevate his game on the defensive end to help supplement the loss of Trevor Ariza in free agency. Beal has proven to be an offensive threat, averaging 17.1 points, 3.7 rebounds, 3.3 assists and a steal per game. The 21-year-old guard has plenty of motivation after being one of the first three players sent home from Team USA this summer.
8. Joe Johnson– Brooklyn Nets
Forget the 15.8 points Johnson averaged during the regular season, the 33-year-old guard once again showed he is capable of taking over any game, averaging 21.2 points on 53.3 percent shooting from the field, 41.5 percent shooting from 3-point range and converted 83.7 percent of his free throws during the playoffs. By making some moves in the off-season, Brooklyn reduced some of its star power, but also set up defined roles for every player on the team, meaning Johnson will return to the focal point of the offense.
7. Klay Thompson– Golden State Warriors
Following his performance for Team USA at the 2014 FIBA World Cup of Basketball, Thompson has elevated his status in the league. As the Oct. 31 deadline to sign an extension or become a restricted free agent next summer approaches, the 24-year-old guard has been dubbed by his agent the best two-way two guard in the league. Thompson has proven himself defensively and is unquestionably one of the most prolific 3-point shooters in the league, but he needs to provide more rebounding and assists to garner All-Star consideration.
6. Dwyane Wade– Miami Heat
A quick look at Wade’s statistical output from last season is deceiving. The 10-time All-Star averaged 19 points, 4.7 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, but that was alongside the most dominant players of this generation and playing an extremely light schedule. The Heat would routinely hold Wade out of consecutive games and had enough talent to cruise to a division title while not pushing its shooting guard at all. With a dramatically different roster this season, Miami will once again rely heavily on Wade and he will have to prove he is capable of fulfilling his increased obligations.
5. Monta Ellis– Dallas Mavericks
The drawbacks to Ellis’ style of play are clear, he often makes questionable decisions when trying to facilitate the offense. The turnover problems Ellis has suffered throughout his career carried over to Dallas, but he proved that the questions around his shot selection were exaggerated, as he shot 45.1 percent from the field, slightly below his career average of 45.4 percent. In his first season with the Mavericks, the 6-foot-3 guard averaged 19 points, 5.7 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.7 steals per game.
4. Lance Stephenson– Charlotte Hornets
Stephenson blossomed into one of the biggest surprises in the NBA last season, leading the league with five triple-doubles and establishing himself as one of the most complete guards. The 40th overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft led all guards with 7.2 rebounds a game and his 4.6 assists a game were the third most among all shooting guards. Charlotte lured Stephenson away from the Pacers with a three-year $27 million deal, hoping he can turn the team into true contenders in the Eastern Conference.
3. Eric Bledsoe– Phoenix Suns
The Suns and Bledsoe spent nearly a year negotiating a contract extension an the two sides finally reached an agreement. Bledsoe will be in Phoenix for the next five years, signing a $70 million extension. Aside from undergoing knee surgery that kept him out for nearly two months, Bledsoe’s first season in Phoenix proved he is capable of being one of the most explosive players in the league. Even though he played out of position at shooting guard, the former Kentucky star posted 17.7 points, 5.5 assists, 4.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
2. Kobe Bryant– Los Angeles Lakers
With 18 years of evidence and Bryant’s uncanny ability to overcome every possible circumstance, he ranks as one of the top shooting guards even after he struggled in his comeback attempt last season. Bryant was limited to just six games and he averaged just 13.8 points, 6.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds and 1.2 steals. The 36-year-old struggled with his 3-point shot and turned the ball over 5.7 times a game. Bryant has been working out and is on pace to participate in the Lakers training camp and until the future Hall-of-Famer proves otherwise, he is always a fantasy stalwart.
1. James Harden– Houston Rockets
The entire Rockets offense will once again flow through Harden. The two-time All-Star had the ball in his hands nearly five full minuets each night, resulting in him leading all shooting guards in points (25.4 points per game) and assists (6.1 per game) and his ability to continually get to the foul line is unmatched. Even though he missed nine contests, Harden still attempted the third most free throws in the NBA and he capitalizes, as he is an 85 percent career free throw shooter.