Ryan Thompson impressing Jazz with defense, work ethic
But the former Rider star, the Broncs' leader last year in a bevvy of statistical categories, has impressed coach Jerry Sloan as one of the several players with non-guaranteed contracts who could work his way onto Utah's opening-night roster.
"This team is all about defense," Thompson said by phone from Utah. "That's what we talk about all the time."
Thompson, undrafted after averaging 17.2 points for the Broncs last year, signed with Utah after playing on NBA summer league teams with the Boston Celtics and Sacramento Kings.
Early last month, he had offers from the Kings -- his older brother Jason's team -- and the Jazz. Though he's thrived in the past when playing alongside Jason, he chose Utah because he thought Sloan and Co. offered the best chance for him to fulfill his lifelong dream of playing in the NBA.
Thompson's work in training camp has just begun. The Jazz opened camp this week and will be on display to the public for the first time in an open scrimmage this weekend. An exhibition season will follow in which he'll need to prove he has the talent and work ethic to stick.
So far, though, the reviews have been positive.
Thompson has earned several endorsements from Sloan, who has a history of taking under-the-radar rookies and turning them into impact players.
And one of Thompson's biggest fans has been Williams, who singled Thompson out Wednesday as one of the newcomers with the best chance to stick.
"Ryan, definitely, I think has a strong chance to make this team," Williams told the Salt Lake Desert News. "Just watching him in some of the pickup games and 3-on-3 we've played, I definitely can tell he has confidence. He can defend, he gives us some added length and that's something we need."
Williams won't be the one deciding who makes the final cut. But having the point guard's confidence means a lot to Thompson, who has been able to pick the veteran's brain about the ins and outs of being an NBA guard.
"You always look for positives," he said. "Especially when it's coming from the best guy on the team."