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The myth and reality of Jason Thompson

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Jason Thompson has inexplicably become a controversial players amongst Kings fans the past several years. We attempt to confirm or deny all relevant rumors.

Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports

Jason Thompson's time as a Sacramento King, all 482 games of it, have been a rollercoaster. Jason Thompson has been the power forward of the future, the power forward pariah, and everything in between. And somehow the 12th pick out of Rider became one of the most argued about Kings among Kings fans. This season is no different, as questions still abound, so we'll attempt to sort some fact from fiction.

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Jason Thompson has developed a jumper

This was a new development we heard about in training camp. We heard that JT had developed a jumper, including putting up attempts from beyond the arc. The stats do not support this rumor, though. According to NBA.com/stats, when JT is shooting about 22% between 10 and 19 feet. He's a surprising 4 for 8 from 20-24 feet, but this seems to be more due to sample size than a sustainable change. Overall JT is shooting 33% from mid-range, and has taken no three pointers.

Conclusion: Myth

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Jason Thompson has bought into his role on the team

This is a little more subjective topic, as it's difficult to say what JT's mentality actually is. But based on what we can observe, JT definitely seems more engaged. He came into camp in amazing shape, but that's no different than usual. What's different is that we aren't seeing the visible frustration we'd seen in recent seasons. Last year Jason was obviously unhappy with his place on the team, even going so far as to give interviews admitting his frustration publicly. This season, there have been no such interviews, and Jason looks happy on the floor again, despite career lows in usage rate and points per minute.

Instead, we're seeing boosts in other categories. On a per minute basis, this is JT's best season for assists since 2011-2012, as is his assists percentage. A positive attitude and better passing stats, despite a far reduced role in the offense? It's subjective, but I'm calling this a win.

Conclusion: Reality

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Jason Thompson is playing good defense

This has been perhaps one of the more controversial myths about Jason Thompson. It's become common rhetoric in discussions, based mostly on the eye test. As a result of one of these conversations, I checked to see if the stats backed up this observation. The results:

JT defense

Jason Thompson is playing really solid defense. Within 10 feet, he's holding opponents to a FG% that is 7.9% worse than their averages. JT was a plus defender in this area last season as well, holding opponents to 2.1% worse than their averages, but the improvement this season is significant. This also contributes to the notion that JT has bought into his role. When looking at these stats, it's also important to remember that JT is regularly drawing the opponent's best big man.

Conclusion: Reality

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Jason Thompson is a bad value to contract

This one has been around a while. Thompson's contract, when all is said and done, will have spanned three different iterations of the NBA's financial realities. The length of his contract is a relic of the first CBA he played under. The current CBA made his contract's length and dollar value seem excessive and impossible to trade. But now the new TV deal will likely make his final season a bargain. It's a fascinating look at how a player's perceived value is influenced by external factors. Right now, on a contract of $6 million this season, $6.4 million next season, and an unguaranteed $6.8 million in the contract's final year, Thompson's contract suddenly isn't so bad. Combined with his renewed positive attitude and positive defensive impact, Jason Thompson's value to contact is better than it has looked in years.

Conclusion: Myth

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Jason Thompson is having a really strong start to this season

While rumors of Jason Thompson The Stretch Four appear to have been greatly exaggerated, JT is still off to a tremendous start. Thompson's career as a King has taught me that this could be fleeting, or it could last for an extended period of time. I don't know what changed JT's attitude, but whatever it is, I'll happily take it. The other myths and realities listed above may change between now and the end of the season, but this final point is undeniable.

Conclusion: Reality