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30Q: Jason Thompson Is Locked Up, Now What?

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2011-12 Statistics:

64 Games Played, 25.9 MPG, 9.1 PPG, .535 FG%, 6.9 RPG, 1.2 APG, 0.7 STL, 0.7 BLK

Contract Status:

5 years, $30 million remaining

By far the biggest move the Kings made this summer was committing to Jason Thompson. By the time his contract is up, Thompson will have been the longest tenured Sacramento King in team history if he is not traded (or the team moves). Thompson has come a long way from 2008, when Kings fans were shocked at his selection with the 12th pick.

Last season, Thompson had to really worry about his future with the team. It was the last year of his contract and the team brought in Chuck Hayes and J.J. Hickson as well. Thompson was seemingly relegated to the background, but in the end, he was the one left standing.

Thompson's new job security does not translate to role security though. Chuck Hayes is still around and hopefully will be healthy this year, and even more importantly, the Kings used their top pick this year on Thomas Robinson. Where does Jason Thompson fit in this new Kings front line?

At least in the short term, Thompson should be the starting Power Forward. He has the experience and tenure, and Robinson needs to get his feet wet first. Hayes is probably never going to be a starter on this team, and rightfully so; He's too much of a situational player. That's what makes Jason Thompson so great. He's the perfect complement to any big man option the Kings can have. He can play next to Cousins, Hayes, or Robinson, sliding from PF to Center as the situation requires.

This is the role that Thompson is meant to play for his career. It's not the most glamorous, but it's important. Thompson can be what we need him to be. He's versatile enough to bang in the low post (which he got much better at last year), make plays off the ball, or hit a mid-range jumper. He's a solid, not great rebounder, and he's a capable defender. While he doesn't show it off by being the best shot blocker or stopper, he makes up for it with his big frame and quick feet. MySynergySports rates him as a very good defender of Isolation and guarding Roll men, and he's better than average against Post-Ups. He's also managed to cut the rate at which he fouls from 4.9 per 36 minutes in his rookie year to just 3.2 per 36 last year.

Thompson is still young as well (26 this season), and a couple of years from his prime. He'll never grow to become a star or anything close, but he showed last season that he can grow as a player. In particular, his offensive game showed a lot more variety than we were accustomed to seeing, particularly in the post and off the ball. He also is one of the best big men I've seen at running the floor in transition, and in the fast paced offense Keith Smart wants to run, that will always be an asset.

So Thompson probably isn't the starter long term, and will likely relinquish the spot once Thomas Robinson shows he's ready for it. But as a "Fits-All-Sizes" first big man off the bench, Thompson can have a long and successful career.