Hollis Thompson — an undrafted rookie from Georgetown — was a huge surprise for the Philadelphia 76ers last year. He was one of many players last year who signed with the 76ers on a minimum contract, and he was probably the best of the bunch. The 6’8″ guard started 41 games for Philadelphia and became one of the key players for the post-trade deadline Sixers. With one year of seasoning under his belt, and minimal improvements to the roster, Thompson is expected to see an increased role for Philly this season. However, projecting Thompson’s production for this season is very, very difficult. Why is this? Well despite Thompson’s big minutes, his production from last year was very minimal.
Thompson shot very well from the field last year. Most of this is because when he shot, it was almost always from three-point land or at the rim:
Because of this, Thompson actually put up decent numbers last year, shooting 46 percent from the field and 40.1 percent from three. Because he rarely took mid-range shots, Thompson had an effective field goal percentage of 55 percent. That’s insanely efficient, especially given the lack of spacing on the Sixers’ offense at times. However, Thompson did this at a ridiculously low usage, posting a usage rate of just 11.3 percent. Average usage is around 20 percent, so Thompson was really picking his spots offensively.
Moving forward to this season, Thompson will likely be forced into a slightly higher usage rate. Michael Carter-Williams and Tony Wroten will most likely command the ball for most of the offense again, but replacing Thaddeus Young‘s possessions is going to be difficult for the Sixers, particularly because Nerlens Noel won’t be good enough to take up 24 percent of Philly’s possessions this year. The Georgetown product is someone who will be able to pick up the slack, especially if the Sixers can create more open looks for Thompson on the right wing, where he was very effective last year. This should help Thompson score a little more than he did in year one, maybe jumping from six points per game to about eight or nine.
However, this is probably going to do some damage to Thompson’s somewhat absurd efficiency numbers from last year. With more added looks, Thompson probably isn’t going to just shoot only when he’s open, and his shooting numbers are likely to drop. At the rim, he will probably score at about the same rate, but from three, I’d expect Thompson’s numbers to dip a bit. He has always been a strong three-point shooter, so the dropoff shouldn’t be too significant, but a drop to around league-average (37-38 percent) is likely. He should score more, but at a less efficient rate.
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Defensively, Thompson should be a fairly useful player for the Sixers. Thompson barely fouled last season, averaging about 1.9 fouls per game. He’s a versatile defender, who can body up some stretch fours and guard on the perimeter. His on/off stats weren’t great last year, but the Sixers’ on/off stats are so skewed by the roster turnover that I’m skeptical of their validity here. Thompson is rated as a decent overall defender via Synergy, guarding the pick-and-roll and post-ups well. That’s decent for his overall success moving forward, as he’s strong in the areas the Sixers will likely struggle to defend as a team, and when Thompson is on an island, he won’t be exposed as much because he’ll have Nerlens Noel behind him. Thompson won’t be a good defender by any means, but he should be serviceable, and serviceable is certainly enough for this team.
Thompson’s ability to contribute similar production in an increased offensive role will likely be a big deal moving forward for Philadelphia. If Thompson struggles with the increased role, it takes away Philadelphia’s best floor spacer, which will be a huge problem, especially when Wroten is on the floor. Thompson might be taking many of Young’s minutes as a stretch four in the Philly offense, and he should perform decently there, if he can be restrained from forcing shots and trying to do too much. Thompson was a nice surprise in year one; now, he has the chance to become one of Philly’s most reliable players.