- Associated Press - Thursday, June 23, 2011

OAKLAND, CALIF. (AP) - The Golden State Warriors drafted Washington State shooting guard Klay Thompson with the 11th pick in the NBA draft Thursday night, adding another potent shooter to an already crowded backcourt.

Thompson led the Pac-10 with 21.6 points per game to go with 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists last season. The 6-foot-7 guard gives some size to the smaller Stephen Curry-Monta Ellis duo, although he’s also another perimeter player not known for defense.

Golden State’s revamped front office insisted the biggest need this summer was defense and rebounding, and Thompson will do little to improve those areas. General manager Larry Riley also said he would take the most talented player no matter the position, and he followed through with that approach.

Riley believes Thompson will be a rotation player and strong contributor off the bench. He also said Thompson could see more time at small forward behind Dorell Wright, who is coming off a breakout year.

“When we talked about defense and rebounding, we also said that we had several areas to solve,” Riley said. “One was depth, one was defense and one was rebounding. So we’ve solved a little bit of the depth issue. Basically, we have an inside presence issue that we have yet to solve.”

The selection will do little to quiet the growing trade talk surrounding Golden State’s star player.

Ellis, the Warriors’ leading scoring last season at 24.1 points per game, is part of a talented tandem with Curry that is among the most prolific in scoring in the league. But the duo is easily one of the worst defensively because both are undersized point guards who essentially play the same position.

At the very least, Thompson gives a shoot-first team even more punch.

“This is no way effects the potential for us to trade any player, as far as that goes,” Riley said about trading Ellis. “I shouldn’t say potential. I should say motivation to trade any player. That may be a little stronger statement for you.”

Some believe Thompson might be the best pure shooter in the draft.

He was in consideration for conference player of the year before Arizona’s Derrick Williams pulled away late in the regular season. Thompson also had off-court troubles following his arrest in early March after a game for investigation of marijuana possession that certainly didn’t help his cause.

He was suspended for a game and made a public apology before the regular-season finale against UCLA. Thompson returned for the Pac-10 tournament and scored a tournament-record 43 points in a loss to Washington.

New owners Joe Lacob and Peter Guber have shown they aren’t afraid to take risks since they bought the franchise last fall for a league-record $450 million. They pulled Jerry West out of retirement to be a front-office consultant, hired sports agent Bob Myers as assistant general manager and future GM, and added broadcaster Mark Jackson as coach despite his lack of previous experience.

Draft night was no different.


Antonio Gonzalez can be reached at: https://www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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