Written by Garrett Catalana – @GarrettCatalana
After making two three-pointers Wednesday night in Detroit, Hollis Thompson quietly moved into ninth place on the Sixers all-time three pointers made list. Those two threes gave Hollis 261 for his young career, passing former-Sixer Willie Green, whose total stands at 259. Hollis is a long way from the top of the list (current leader Allen Iverson has made 885 made threes), but who would have thought Thompson would have been in this position in the summer of 2013?
Signed to a “Hinkie Special” in late September of 2013, Thompson came into training camp with no expectations to contribute to the team but he played well enough in the preseason to make the 15-man roster. As an NBA fan with knowledge of most players around the league, I frankly never heard of Hollis before the Sixers signed him. I didn’t remember him as a Hoya at Georgetown and I had no idea that he played for the Tulsa 66ers in the D-League the previous year. Looking back, it’s crazy to think that Hollis has appeared in the most games as a Sixer since the Sam Hinkie/Brett Brown regime began three years ago.
Every other player above Hollis on the three-point list was highly sought after by the Sixers organization. Four were drafted in the first round (Iverson, Iguodala, Hawkins, and Holiday), three in the second round (Korver, Williams, and Green), and two were acquired in a trade (McKie and Barros). Hollis Thompson was the only player in the group that went undrafted.
As quietly as he entered the league, Hollis quietly climbed the ranks to become one of the best three point shooters in 76ers history. Even though Hollis has logged the second-least amount of games of anyone in the top-10 (Dana Barros played 163 games) and is last in total minutes, Hollis has established himself as one of the best shooters in Sixers history in a relatively short time.
Over his past two+ seasons with the Sixers, Thompson has shot an even 40% from three, ranking him fourth all-time among qualified Sixers in three-point percentage, only trailing Dana Barros, Kyle Korver, and Hersey Hawkins, all of whom were All-Stars during their NBA careers. While Thompson doesn’t have the overall ability of the now eight men in front of him, his three-point game has been efficient on some terrible Sixers teams. In fact, he is seventh all-time in Sixers history in effective field goal percentage, trailing some Sixer greats like Charles Barkley, Wilt Chamberlain, Darryl Dawkins, Bobby Jones, and Maurice Cheeks. By season’s end, he could reach sixth place, passing Aaron McKie (295), Jrue Holiday (299), and Dana Barros (332). With the lack of spacing and talent on the court it’s amazing that Hollis has been able to keep up his three-point production during this long of a stretch.
In the history of the NBA, only five player have shot 40% from three in each of his first three seasons. Those five include Steph Curry, Ben Gordon, Hersey Hawkins, Anthony Morrow, and Klay Thompson. If Hollis keeps up his current pace, he will join this impressive group. With the exception of Morrow, who, like Thompson, went undrafted, all of the others were drafted in the NBA lottery. But even in Morrow’s case, he never appeared in more than 70 games in his first three seasons.
It of course is worth mentioning that the Sixers have won just 44 of a possible 167 games with Thompson as a member of the team, but that doesn’t negate the fact that Hollis still has been one of Sam Hinkie’s greatest finds. One of the key points in this rebuilding process is to use the bottom of the depth chart to find potential diamonds-in-the-rough, more notably and more recent, Robert Covington and TJ McConnell. But let us not forget Hollis Thompson.
I can specifically remember an interview during the 2013 preseason when Brett Brown was asked about who was the most improved player on the roster since the beginning of training camp, and without hesitation he responded with Hollis Thompson. Brown has a soft spot for players who give maximum effort, which goes back to his playing days at Boston University coached by a young Rick Pitino. That’s much of the reason why TJ McConnell made the 15-man cut this season. Thompson was this player back in Brown’s first season as a head coach and he has continued to work on his craft on his way to become the longest-tenured Sixer. Who knows if Hollis will even be on the roster next season or beyond, but he has personally been one of my favorite players to watch because of his hard-work attitude and how much better he has become since the summer of 2013. Who knows if Hollis would play even a second for a contending team, but the Sixers should be proud of the player they molded with their player development program. No one could have predicted that Thompson would still be here and be producing off the bench in year 3 of The Process. I certainly didn’t.
I was able to be in attendance for the last day of this year’s training camp at Stockton University where the Sixers were practicing and seemingly going through the motions. After the practice concluded, everyone was packing up their things, getting medical treatment, grabbing food at the buffet, or talking to the media. All except one player. Down at one basket, there was Hollis Thompson with assistant coach Billy Lange getting up shot after shot after shot. He was sweating more during that shooting drill than half the team did during the actual practice. That’s a player I want to keep in the program whether he is talented or not. Some may feel that Hollis Thompson joining the top-10 of Sixers’ three-point shooters isn’t that big of a deal, but I certainly do because of how he got there. He worked hard and he earned it.
Congratulations on your accomplishment Hollis. Keep up the good work, Sixers Nation knows you will.