Darius Thompson, the 6´4 PG from Murfreesboro, Tennessee had a breakout season with Baskonia last year, earning 2nd team All Euroleague honors, and his basketball story is truly one of consistency and productivity.
Path to Now
- Played 5 Years in college, transferring twice: Tennessee to Virginia after his freshman season, and again after 3 years at Tennessee to Western Kentucky for his senior season
- Un-drafted, Thompson’s European career began in the Netherlands with Leiden, 19 Pts & 5.4 Ast/game
- Following a great rookie year, Thompson spent the next 2 seasons in Italy with Brindisi, playing in the BCL for the first time
- His next move was to the Eurocup with Lokomotiv Kuban, 13.2 Pts & 5.8 Ast, before making the Euroleague jump to Baskonia
Thompson appeared in all 34 games for Baskonia, starting 33 of them, while playing around 27 minutes per game and averaging 12.6 PTs, 3.2. REBs, 6.7 ASTs & 1.7 STLs.
Thanks to his size and athletic ability, the shifty guard found success right away. Thompson led the Euroleague in Assists and finished 2nd in Steals while also finishing 7th in PIR, among the top performers in the league.
Thompson has a great mix of inside and outside game, paired with incredible passing vision. At 6´4, he can see over the top of defenders and make reads that a lot of smaller guards aren’t able to pull off.
- Thompson picked defenses apart in multiple games, racking up 9 games with double-digits in Assists
- Thompson also had 6 double-doubles, ranking 4th in Euroleague this past season
However, Thompson’s passing is so dangerous, because of his ability to score. Defenders must commit to taking away his shots or shutting down passing lanes, and when considering his scoring abilities, below are key numbers:
- 87.6% of his offense came in the half-court with 50.4% as p&r ball handler – time spent as the main ball handler
- Great shot distribution – Of his 318 shots, 42.5% (135 shots) were jumpers and 45.0% (143 shots) came at the rim
- Thompson ranked top 20 in the Euroleague in 2pt attempts and makes, as a PG!
Thompson was one of the most sought-after free agents in the Euroleague with multiple teams making a run at him. Eventually, (it looks like) Anadolu Efes have won the race, following the departure of 2x Euroleague champion and 2020-21 MVP, Vasilije Micic who finally decided to make the jump to the NBA.
On the surface, this comparison looks fairly simple.
Micic played 5 more minutes per game which he used to score 3.4 points more, draw 1.8 fouls more while taking 3.5 more 3s per game. Micic is more of an outside shooter (+1.1 makes/game) while Thompson attacks the rim more (+0.9 att/game) but our team looked a little further into the comparison.
Both players are similar in that they are pick and roll ball-handlers, who spent a lot of time running and directing the offense; below are 3 main differences, keeping in mind that Efes Coach Ergin Ataman left for Panathinaikos, with Erdem Can taking over and possibly running a different system:
- Thompson spent just 5.8% of the time in Isolation situations (26 possessions) while Micic spent 16.1% of his offense in Iso (81 possessions). Vasilije wasn’t overly effective though, shooting just 30%.
- Running the floor in transition is another big difference. Here Micic spent just 6.6% of his offense (33 Poss.) while Thompson pushed the pace a lot more, 12.4% and 56 possessions.
- The most obvious thing is shot distribution. Jumpers made up 42.5% of Thompson´s offense with 45% coming at the rim. For Micic jumpers made up 64.1% of his offense with only 32.7% coming at the rim.
In our opinion, Efes found the ideal replacement to fill big shoes.
A tall PG with Euroleague experience, who dominated last season passing the ball, and scores enough to keep defenses on their toes.
While Micic is more of a jump shooter, Thompson´s sped-up style in transition with more rim runs will shape Anadolu Efes´ new offense without losing some of the qualities that made Vasilije Micic so special.