Every year there are stories from training camp that force an eyebrow to raise. A player has fixed his shot mechanics. A player has gained or lost 20 pounds of muscle or fat, respectively. As such, it's only natural to face these reports with a sense of cynicism. That's the natural reaction, then, when we hear that Jason Thompson is having a great training camp. Oh, the power forward most speculated to be traded this season is doing great? You don't say.
But sometimes these stories are true, and these are the dreams that training camp is made of.
JT has come into camp in incredible shape. This isn't surprising, as he's always been a guy you can count on to be in shape for camp. But according to reliable outlets, such as our friend James Ham of Cowbell Kingdom, Thompson's in the best shape of his career.
Thompson showed up to camp in incredible shape, but he does that every year. At 6-foot-11 and 250 pounds, Thompson used the offseason to lean down, while adding a tremendous amount of upper body strength. He doesn't even resemble the player that came out of Rider University six years ago.
And then you start hearing about Thompson adding outside shooting ability, with the goal of becoming a stretch four.
Derrick Williams and Jason Thompson are having a 3-point shootout after practice. Neither have missed many. Huge improvement by both.— James Ham (@James_Ham) October 1, 2014
And then you see Cousins praising the way JT is putting the past behind him.
Cousins said Jason Thompson has been "incredible" and he's happy to see him play well considering all he's been through as a King.— Jason Jones (@mr_jasonjones) October 1, 2014
Cousins said to him the most impressive person in camp so far has been Jason Thompson. Says he's really proud of how he came in & is playing— Kayte Christensen (@kayte_c) October 1, 2014
And suddenly you find yourself wondering, could JT salvage his career as a King?
If Jason Thompson completes this season as a Sacramento King, he'll be the all-time Sacramento Kings leader in games played. It's an incredible journey from the scrawny unknown forward the Kings drafted. We imagined the front court of the future with Shock and Hawes (while I'm glad Spencer Hawes is gone, I wish the Shock nickname had stuck). It feels like a lifetime ago. JT has been involved in every fan-concocted trade over the past several seasons, and I myself have actively discussed how Jason would be best served by a change of scenery. And yet JT persists. He's been the one constant over the past six seasons.
I struggle to imagine Thompson, at age 28, emerging as a stretch four for the Kings. But I don't find it as difficult to imagine him buying back in, getting his head on straight, and reminding us why he was a favorite to so many Kings fans over the years. Thompson's never been the best player on the roster, but he's usually been a reliable contributor and a hard worker. That's what made last season so difficult to watch.
It's training camp, so you'll be excused if you prefer a wait and see approach. Personally, I'm buying in. Let's do this, JT. Be part of the success of the Sacramento Kings. Change your story.