Mychel Thompson is no stranger to the NBA. He’s played in it, his brother has played in it and his father has, too. I guess you could say he has the NBA in his blood. After a four-year stint at Pepperdine University, Thompson went undrafted, but signed with the Erie Bayhawks right as the lockout rolled around. An impressive five games with Erie orchestrated a call from the Cavaliers, but after failing to latch on with the Cleveland Cavaliers last year, Thompson found himself looking for work. Thompson had a boring summer league with the Knicks, nothing great, nothing horrible, but team executives thought he earned an invitation to training camp. His play thus far has warranted him time with the starters in practice, making us ask the question: Can Mychel Thompson be the Knicks’ starting shooting guard on opening day?
I think the answer to this question is yes.
With Iman Shumpert out until sometime “between December and February,” and Ronnie Brewer still recovering from his knee injury, the Knicks will likely need a shooting guard stand-in for opening day. Coach Woodson made it clear that he “doesn’t know who’s starting, but it won’t be JR Smith,” so that leaves just a few alternative options. James White is the only other signed shooting guard on the roster, but it’s likely that the team will add at least one of their training camp invitees to their opening day roster. While JR Smith won’t start, he’ll likely play a majority of the shooting guard minutes, leaving the starter’s minutes to be seen as more of an audition.
Mychel Thompson has been impressive in training camp. Unfortunately, or, actually, fortunately, training camp ends in about two and a half weeks, cutting short Thompson’s audition for a roster spot. Since Brewer should be back to full strength a few weeks into the season, I could see the Knicks taking Thompson and his non-guarenteed deal into the season, while starting him at shooting guard, in essence giving him an extended audition. Since JR Smith will likely play most of the two-guard minutes, this isn’t a huge risk on the Knicks’ part, since they can always take him out for the likes of James White or JR Smith – Even Jason Kidd, if they’d like to run a two point guard set.
Since the Knicks are sitting pretty salary capped out for the next few years, they’ll be on the prowl for the next diamond in the rough, ala Jeremy Lin, in training camp for the foreseeable future. It’s for this reason that I think the starting shooting guard will come from the team’s training camp roster, and more than likely become Mychel Thompson, who’s been taking advantage of the opportunity given to him. If he shows some talent, then great, the Knicks can carry him, then re-sign him once the season is up and JR Smith and Ronnie Brewer’s deals expire. If he doesn’t live up to NBA standard, then with no financial ties, they can cut him.
The Knicks are a deep team once everyone is healthy, so I think they’ll use the starting shooting guard position as an audition for potential training camp steals. Come January, the opening day starting shooting guard won’t likely see time, as Iman Shumpert, Ronnie Brewer and JR Smith battle for minutes. Until then, Mychel Thompson, your number could be called on November 1st.