Mark Jackson sat quietly offstage as the Warriors made a splashy introduction of their three draft picks at the team’s downtown Oakland practice facility this week.
Afterward, the ever-enthusiastic new coach gushed, "I’m not putting limitations on the rookies, it’s all on them."
With first-round pick Klay Thompson likely to get considerable playing time alongside point guard Stephen Curry if Monta Ellis is traded or needs a break, Golden State will have the first backcourt in history whose fathers both played in the league.
"That lowers the risk of guys flopping," Jackson said. "Coming from good stock means they won’t panic when the spotlight turns on them, because they’ve lived under the spotlight their whole lives."
The soft-spoken Thompson said he was flattered at comparisons to Reggie Miller, and reluctantly acknowledged beating the 46-year-old Hall of Famer in a game of one-on-one last year.
"I’m going to continue to mold my game after him," Thompson said.
Thompson, who was a star quarterback and all-around baseball player in high school before switching exclusively to basketball at Washington State, will face the ultimate test defending the likes of Kobe Bryant, Jason Terry, Manu Ginobli and other explosive Western Conference shooting guards.
But he didn’t sound intimidated.
"I am one of the most NBA-ready guys in the draft," Thompson said. "I should be able to step in and contribute right away if I keep my focus."
Jackson agreed: "My reputation wasn’t as a great defender, but I became a great team defender. Klay has the size, length and athleticism to get it done." No one ever doubted the physical tools of second-round pick Jeremy Tyler. However, the 6-foot-10, 260-pound center struggled miserably playing overseas for two years after skipping his senior year of high school.
"I’m pretty NBA-ready," the thoughtful 20-year-old told me. "I have been working on my body, skill-set and more importantly, being a professional on and off the court. The biggest part of my journey is growing up."
Jackson loved hearing that.
"We’re going to give him every opportunity," Jackson said. "The kid has tremendous potential. He can make an impact right away."
The Warriors’ other second-round pick, point guard Charles Jenkins, a three-year captain at Hofstra, was praised by Jackson as "a proven guy with great toughness and a class kid."
Realistically, the Warriors are still a couple of talented big men away from escaping their perennial purgatory. But with the NBA lockout looming and the Thursday deadline fast approaching, nobody will be able to make any moves. So much for having "A Great Time Out."
KGO (810 AM) Sports Director Rich Walcoff can be heard weekdays from 5 to 9 a.m. on the KGO morning news. He can be reached at RichWalcoff@gmail.com.