TREY THOMPKINS & TRAVIS LESLIE
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Gallery | Thompkins/Leslie: 2011-12 Season
The situation for 2011 second round draft picks Trey Thompkins (37th overall) and Travis Leslie (47th) was not quite as dire. They were teammates at the University of Georgia and have ties dating back to their days growing up in the suburbs of Atlanta. Effectively, they were two friends learning the ropes of the NBA together.
"We learned a lot, we got to watch a lot of good basketball, become good students, good teammates, and now this summer is our time to prove that we've got a place on the team and can do a lot for this team," Thompkins said, who along with Leslie turned 22 earlier this year.
Despite appearing in just 24 regular season games, almost exclusively in the waning minutes of a blowout, Thompkins, a 6-foot-10 sharp-shooting forward, worked regularly with Severns in the hours before tipoff. He also scored a career-high eight points on two occasions and grabbed seven rebounds in the Clippers' 26-point victory at Washington.
As for Leslie, the athletic guard spent two stints in the NBA Developmental League with the Bakersfield Jam. In 10 regular season games with the D-League affiliate, he averaged 20.4 minutes, scoring 10.2 points on 50.4% shooting. He also appeared in 10 games for the Clippers, notching a career-high six points in the win over Washington.
"I had fun being with this team [the Clippers]," Leslie said. "Last year wasn't really our time but we've just got to keep working so next season we can come in and contribute."
Thompkins and Leslie were among the first Clippers players back in the gym after the season ended and have been mainstays since. The duo will also play on the Clippers' 2012 Summer League team in Las Vegas. According to Severns, it will be an opportunity for the staff to evaluate both players on a more acute level than merely shoot-arounds and workouts.
"Summer League will be very important," Severns said. "They're similar in that they didn't play much during the season and we need to see where they need to develop."
Severns said Thompkins is a skilled passer and shooter and that the team envisions him ultimately as a stretch four. "We need him working on his body, his conditioning, and skills," Severns said. "He's going to play a lot in the summer and it's going to be a wakeup call. There are going to be guys who are hungry and he's going to have to respond. He's going to have to show what he can do."
Thompkins knows what's expected of him over the next four months.
"I'm personally working on my body, trying to get in better shape, stuff like that," he said. "Making sure I've got a few spots on the floor they want me to focus on the most, make sure I've got those down.
"A lot of elbow work, a lot of work in the weight room, a lot of different types of conditioning, swimming, stairs, sand dunes, things like that."
When it comes to hard work, Leslie will be right alongside his buddy.
Leslie was hailed as a phenomenal dunker coming into last year's draft, but he will likely make his mark in the NBA on the defensive end.
"We need to take a close look at Travis in Summer League," Severns said. "We think he can develop into a very good defensive player on the wing because of his size and athleticism."
Note: Madelyn Burke also contributed to this report.
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