Did you ever wonder why Klay Thompson fell all the way to no.11 in the 2011 Draft? The fact the Golden State Warriors shooting guard was arrested and even suspended from playing for several games while he was in Washington State probably had something to do with that.
Despite being one of the best scorers in his draft class, multiple teams hesitated to select Thompson during the 2011 Draft due to his pot stigma.
Until Golden State took the gamble
In the summer of 2011, a year after current Warriors owner Joe Lacob purchased the franchise, the team's scouts Larry Riley and Patrick Sund had their eyes focused on Thompson. The shooting guard out of Washington State averaged 17.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.6 assists per game during his collegiate tenure and was dubbed as a prolific outside shooter who could create his shot, had a 6'6 wingspan, and be useful off-ball.
But according to Ethan Sherwood Strauss, writer of the book entitled "The Victory Machine: The Making and Unmaking of the Warriors Dynasty," the Warriors also had their doubts about Thompson as there was some controversy within the organization over drafting him due to his marijuana conviction.
However, Jerry West, who at that time served as a consultant for the Warriors, persuaded the team to gamble on the kid out of Washington State, and luckily for them, it paid off.
"It was at least clear that Klay loved the game with a kind of myopic devotion. Beyond basketball, his dog Rocco, and "dating," there wasn't much Thompson filled his life with. Former Warriors PR man Dan Martinez once noted that Klay was the only player who showed up to the annual media day press conference event and actually started dribbling a basketball. The game was his lodestar," Strauss wrote, describing what endeared the Warriors to go for Thompson.
Let the good outweigh the bad.
Marijuana addiction is a severe problem and has proven to ruin the lives of athletes. It's never an excusable addition, but at least Thompson managed to control it by focusing on his development and sheer love for basketball.
Nobody doubted Klay's commitment to the sport and savant-like focus on being the best version of himself. The Warriors gambled on Thompson despite his marijuana charges during his youth. Ultimately, it paid dividends as the shooting guard helped the team win three of their championships — and potentially more as the Warriors continue to be one of the most successful teams in the league.
Credit also goes to the former assistant coach Daren Erman who worked with Thompson early in his career to improve his shooting, defensive instincts, and overall character. Safe to say that Thompson's career eventually turned out okay, and his alleged marijuana addiction didn't end up ruining his professional career after all.