Hollis Thompson: the player that leaves you wondering what he’s doing or what his place is here, but somehow shoots at least 38 percent from three every season as a 76er.
Using Basketball-Reference's database, Thompson is one of nine players who has attempted at least 846 three-pointers (his total) through his first three NBA seasons while shooting at least 39 percent from deep (Thompson currently sits at 39.1 percent).
Thompson obviously won’t ever be a star like Klay Thompson is, or even a go-to sharpshooter like Kyle Korver, Wesley Matthews, or Allan Houston from this list, but the common thread between all other players in this query is that they’re legitimate NBA players whose ability to stretch the floor kept them in the league.
Thompson’s advanced stats are poor outside his efficiency from three. He ranked second-to-last among qualified Sixers in Nylon Calculus’ Daily RAPM/36 minutes ahead of Nik Stauskas at -2.4. His Wins Shares/48 minutes (.026) were 11th on the team. His Box Plus/Minus (3.1) was 9th. Questions regarding Thompson’s standing on the Sixers and as a player in this league overall are valid when looking that he really doesn’t add anything of consequence at this point outside of his magical consistency of shooting at least 38 percent from three.
He didn't improve as an off-the-ball cutter last season, his defensive rotations still leave much to be desired, and he can't be left to handle the rock for too long, but he does one thing very well. It just so happens that this one thing may be the most important skill in today's NBA. The computer science nerd from Georgetown can knock down threes.
Though he may drop down a few pegs in terms of what number player he is off the bench this season, is it time people start talking about Thompson the same way Robert Covington has been discussed this season as a three-point marksman who's set to improve with a better roster? Covington is certainly the better shooter, but the sheer volume of his attempts (482 threes attempted in 2016) has hampered his efficiency (35.3 percent in 2016) from beyond the arc.
If Thompson were to play in a lineup next to Covington and Jerryd Bayless on the perimeter -- those are legitimate NBA shooters -- leaving more room for open buckets for all, he fits so well. If he's next to Gerald Henderson or even Covington to a lesser degree, those are at least average NBA wing defenders out there to take pressure off his uneven defense, to say nothing of having either Nerlens Noel or Joel Embiid patrolling the paint behind him.
Factor in Ben Simmons and Sergio Rodriguez being the two best passers this franchise has had in a decade or so (Andre Miller?), and the pieces are coming together for Thompson, much like Covington, to finally harness his one most desirable skill in a better team setting and come off looking like a real NBA player.
Thompson is indispensable for one less practical, yet undeniable important reason: he's the longest-tenured Sixer currently, having been on the roster since the beginning of The Process on Opening Night 2013. Hell, he is The Process, the only one of the players from the basket of deplorables Sam Hinkie sent forth on a burning wreckage through the NBA's landscape on the way to a top-three pick in the 2014 NBA draft to still hang around. Thompson crawled through a river of shit and came out clean on the other side.
Sixers fans should want Thompson to primarily succeed and catch on as a rotational player for the simple reason that more good players can only serve to help the team; however, that same outcome is just another reminder that Hinkie's Process wasn't in vain.