- Associated Press - Friday, June 24, 2011

OAKLAND, CALIF. (AP) - Maybe the last thing the Golden State Warriors needed was another shooter.

They believe Klay Thompson was just too good not to take.

Golden State drafted the Washington State guard with the 11th pick in the NBA draft Thursday night, adding another potent shooter to an already crowded backcourt.

“We will address our issues. But this was an opportunity that we couldn’t pass up,” new coach Mark Jackson said. “Who’s to say we didn’t get better today?”

The big man the Warriors craved came late and could take even longer to develop.

They bought Charlotte’s 39th pick for $2 million to get former San Diego high school star Jeremy Tyler, now 20, a 6-foot-10 player who dropped out to compete overseas but struggled in Israel before moving on to Japan. Golden State also took Hofstra forward Charles Jenkins 44th overall.

The only one likely to make an immediate impact is Thompson.

Warriors general manager Larry Riley called the guard the best pure shooter in the draft earlier this week. Jackson reiterated that sentiment on the television broadcast. Knicks President Donnie Walsh even compared Thompson to Reggie Miller, one of the most lethal 3-pointer shooters in history.

Whether he is the right fit for Golden State will be known soon.

Thompson led the Pac-10 last season with 21.6 points per game to go with 4.8 rebounds and 2.6 assists. The 6-foot-7 guard gives some size to the smaller Stephen Curry-Monta Ellis duo, although he’s 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 immediately. Management also said it would take the most talented player no matter the position, and it followed through.

Riley believes Thompson will be a rotation player and strong contributor off the bench as a rookie. 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.”

Thompson’s selection also won’t do much to quiet the growing trade talk surrounding Golden State’s star player.

Riley insisted Thompson’s addition doesn’t give more incentive to move Ellis, the Warriors‘ leading scoring last season at 24.1 points per game. Ellis is part of a talented tandem with Curry that is among the most prolific in scoring in the league but also one of the worst defensively because both are undersized point guards.

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

“I feel like I can come off the bench and provide great scoring,” Thompson said. “I feel like I can swing between three positions at will and be the versatile guard they’re looking for.”

Thompson also comes from a strong sports family. His father, Mychal, was the No. 1 overall pick by the Portland Trail Blazers in the 1978 draft and played 12 seasons in the league, winning three championships as a role player with the Los Angeles Lakers.

The younger Thompson 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.

Thompson is the first major roster move by a reconstructed franchise.

New Warriors 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 Jackson _ a broadcaster the last several years _ as coach despite his lack of experience.

Draft night was no different.

“I couldn’t be happier about being drafted by the Warriors and their new owners and the direction that they’re going,” Thompson said. “It just gives me chills thinking about it.”


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

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