Had the 2011 NBA draft unfolded differently, the NBA as we know it might not exist.
Klay Thompson, for starters, wouldn’t be on the Golden State Warriors. He would be with the San Antonio Spurs. Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical relayed as much following Thompson’ 60-point detonation during a win over the Indiana Pacers on Monday night:
Five and half years ago, a call had come into Myers inside the Warriors’ facility. Within 48 hours of the 2011 draft, the San Antonio Spurs had flown in Thompson for a clandestine workout and meeting with Gregg Popovich and R.C. Buford.
Myers had known the Spurs were aggressively pushing for a trade into the Toronto Raptors’ fifth spot to draft Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas, a move the Warriors wanted to make themselves. Short of that deal, Myers had a sneaking suspicion that the Spurs were moving toward a Plan B: cutting a deal to bound over the Warriors’ 11th overall pick and take Thompson.
Golden State believed this, too: At No. 10, the Milwaukee Bucks wanted to draft Thompson as well.
“Consensus was hard with our group,” Myers once told me, “but we had it with drafting Klay.”
History changed course on draft night, when the Bucks traded out of No. 10 and the Sacramento Kings moved into the spot – wanting Jimmer Fredette.
Before long, the Spurs were finalizing a deal to get to No. 15 for their own franchise-changing player: Kawhi Leonard.
This is just crazy to think about. It’s one of those great what-if moments in NBA history. And it really puts the luck of Thompson’s stay with the Warriors in perspective. They almost missed out on him in 2010, then almost traded him to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love in 2014.
Unlike most other what-if instances, everyone involved here came out on top. The Warriors snagged Klay Thompson, an All-Star and all-time shooter, and the Spurs picked up Leonard, a reigning Defensive Player of the Year and MVP candidate.
See? Everybody won.
Except, of course, the Kings.
But what else is new?