Southwest Notes: Thompson, Sochan, Jones, Mavs

While Jalen Green has been the breakout star of the Rockets‘ recent hot streak, the contributions of Amen Thompson during the team’s 11 straight wins shouldn’t be overlooked, Tim MacMahon of ESPN said on the latest Hoop Collective podcast (YouTube link).

After spending most of his rookie season coming off the bench, Thompson has started the past nine games and is averaging 15.9 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists in 30.2 minutes per game during that stretch. While he has provided secondary scoring and play-making for the Rockets, it’s Thompson’s defensive ability that excites the team the most, according to MacMahon.

“The Rockets believe – and have data to back up – that he can be the best non-big defender in the NBA really soon,” MacMahon said.

The primary knock against Thompson is that he has yet to develop an outside shot — he has made just 8-of-55 three-point attempts this season, for an ugly conversion rate of 14.5%. If he can eventually add that facet to his game, his ceiling would only grow higher.

“He’s a jump shot away from being an All-Star for sure, and possibly higher than that,” ESPN’s Tim Bontemps added.

Here’s more from around the Southwest:

  • Spurs forward Jeremy Sochan suffered a left ankle impingement during Friday’s win over New York, jeopardizing his availability for the rest of this season, writes Tom Orsborn of The San Antonio Express-News. As Orsborn notes, Sochan hasn’t missed a game this season and had expressed a desire to play in all 82, but he has been ruled out for Sunday’s contest against Golden State and figures to miss more time beyond that.
  • Pelicans forward Herbert Jones met the 65-game criteria for end-of-season award consideration on Saturday night, tweets ESPN’s Bobby Marks. It was technically Jones’ 68th game of the season, but he played between 15 and 20 minutes in five of them, and only two of those outings could count toward his 65-game minimum. Jones is considered a strong candidate for one of the 10 All-Defensive spots and could earn Defensive Player of the Year consideration as well.
  • The Mavericks‘ backcourt duo of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving have come a long way over the past 13-plus months, according to Brad Townsend of The Dallas Morning News (subscription required). As Townsend observes, the two stars first played together against Sacramento last February, so this week’s back-to-back victories over the Kings, which extended Dallas’ win streak to six games, represented an encouraging full-circle moment. “I always said, this training camp, when got some practices in together, it would be way easier for us to function better,” Doncic said. “And I think it shows, especially now. I think we’re both happy and we’re both doing some good things on the floor. And we have great teammates. So I think this team is special.”
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