OAKLAND –- He is the last big man on the bench, rarely leaving his front-row seat, where he usually can be found cheering for a Warriors team reaching unprecedented heights.
He’s a veteran accustomed to being a starter on losing teams.
It’s as if Jason Thompson, given the similarities, is the new David Lee.
Though he didn’t come to the Warriors directly through the July 27 trade of Lee, Thompson is inheriting virtually the same role Lee had last season: Be ready when called, though it won’t be often.
As was the case with Lee, team success is providing Thompson a measure of comfort for the idle time he has as an individual.
“It’s tough, especially if you haven’t gone through it before,” Thompson told CSNBayArea.com after practice Wednesday. “You’d have more to say if you’re 8-8 or 7-9. But when you’re undefeated and making history, it’s different. You can’t even get a good lawyer to win that argument.”
Thompson during seven years with the Sacramento Kings appeared in 541 games, with 405 starts. Through 16 games with the Warriors, Thompson has appeared in seven, with zero starts. He’s averaging roughly three minutes per game.
Coach Steve Kerr said numerous times last season that the most difficult part of his job was finding minutes for players when so many have worked so hard to earn them. Interim coach Luke Walton, presiding over the 16-0 Warriors, agrees.
“It’s definitely challenging, especially because we have guys that work hard every day,” Walton said. “The guys that aren’t playing major minutes are in here playing 3-on-3 and keeping their conditioning up. They deserve to play.”
“It’s just that they happen to be on a really good team that’s loaded. So it’s tough. You want to get everyone opportunities . . . it’s not like we have bad guys that are pouting and not cheering for their teammates.”
Thompson, 29, falls into this category. He’s behind Andrew Bogut and Festus Ezeli, behind Marreese Speights, too. Thompson is the No. 4 big man on a team that typically goes through portions of games without even one big man on the floor.
So while Thompson says he enjoys what he calls the “family-oriented” environment with the Warriors – something very different from his days in Sacramento – his personal experience thus far is of sitting and cheering and waiting.
“I’m used to playing more, so mentally it’s tough,” he said. “I don’t think it’s anything that I’m doing (wrong).
“But when things are rolling, you don’t really make adjustments. You kind of just learn through it. It’s part of the mental adversity, per se. Just being the ultimate pro. And if it’s leading to wins, there is nothing else to say.”