The Georgia star is matter-of-fact in assessing the state of his play lately.
“I haven’t been playing like myself,” Thompkins said Friday. “But I’ve made some adjustments and I’m expecting to get back to playing the way I’m used to playing.”
It may be too late for Thompkins to be the SEC player of the year, an award he was made the favorite for back in the preseason. But there’s still time for Thompkins to help Georgia live up to its billing as an NCAA tournament team.
The question is precisely how much should be required of Thompkins along the way.
The junior forward was held to a season-low eight points in Wednesday’s loss to Vanderbilt, which certainly did not help his team’s NCAA hopes. The Bulldogs have another chance to get a quality win Saturday when they visit Tennessee.
Thompkins was also held to 14 points in last week’s loss to Xavier, another blown opportunity for the Bulldogs. And overall his scoring and rebounding averages are down from last season – although it didn’t help that he missed the start of this season and then was slowed with an ankle injury.
Still, Thompkins thinks the situation has called for some examination.
He said he’s been spending some extra time in the gym “working on my craft.” That includes fundamentals, offensive moves and jumpers. He is also looking at his decision-making on offense.
“I see double teams coming and sometimes I just rush my shot,” he said.
Georgia head coach Mark Fox said the double-teams that come when Thompkins gets a pass can be dealt with. The problem is that opponents are also doubling the 6-foot-9 forward even before he gets the ball.
“He’s not getting any one-on-one basketball right now,” Fox said. “There’s usually a crowd around him. So I think he’s drawing a ton of attention. I don’t think he’s probably rebounded and put it back in as well as he did a year ago. We’ve talked about that. But he’s aware of the attention he’s drawing and anticipated some of that. But we’ve gotta get a little more creative to get him an easy basket here or there.”
Thompkins was the team’s leading scorer in 11 of its 14 wins. He also led the way in closer-than-expected losses to Mississippi State and Tennessee.
This season, after missing the first part of non-conference play with an injury, he has led the team in scoring in only two of its six SEC wins (Kentucky and South Carolina). That’s a healthy sign when the team wins, but in the five most recent losses (four SEC games and Xavier) Thompkins has not been the leading scorer either.
“I thought last year in probably every win he was probably the leading scorer. I don’t think that has to be the case with this team,” Fox said. “He impacts the game in a lot of ways. We do need him to score. Does he have to have a certain amount of points to score? I think this team is more balanced than that.”
Thompkins said he doesn’t feel the need to dominate every game. But he also seems to know there’s been room for improvement.
“We’ve got so many guys that can score 20 for us to win that I try not to worry about it too much,” he said. “But individually I know I’ve got things I need to work on, and I’ve been working on them. And hopefully I’ll be back into shape, the way I was.”