Rewinding the process: Hollis Thompson’s up and down career


Sam Hinkie’s famous “Process” days with the Philadelphia 76ers involved a ton of roster turnover. Key role players were consistently traded away for draft picks, while the actual Sixers roster was made up of a mish-mash of undrafted free agents and rookies. 

Similar to that of Nerlens Noel (who was highlighted last week), forward Hollis Thompson was one of the first players to play a key role in the Sixers “tanking” lineups of the mid-2010s. However, unlike that of Noel, Thompson was not a high draft pick, in fact, he had to fight and claw for a spot in the NBA.

A lesser-known prospect coming out of Georgetown, Thompson went undrafted. He bounced around some G-League and Summer League teams after college before eventually settling down with the 76ers. With the team starved of any sort of talent due to the rebuild, Thompson was actually able to settle into a pretty major role with the team.

Across three and a half seasons in Philly, Thompson averaged 24.2 minutes per game, proving valuable as both a perimeter scorer and defender. To this day he still ranks among the top-10 in Sixers history for 3P% (38.9%). 

Despite impressing in his time with the Sixers (led all rookies in 3P% during the 2013-14 season), Thompson ultimately became expendable in 2016. With more valued forwards like Robert Covington and Dario Saric entering the fold, Thompson was released to save money.

Following his departure from the Sixers, Thompson was quickly snatched up by the Chicago Bulls’ developmental team. Just a day later he was traded to the Austin Spurs (San Antonio’s G-League team). Just a few weeks after that, he then signed a 10-day contract with the New Orleans Pelicans.

After signing a secondary 10-day contract with the Pelicans, Thompson was not signed to the main roster and ultimately returned to the Austin Spurs. Thompson averaged just 3.8 points per game on 25% shooting across nine games with the Pelicans.

Over the next two years, Thompson bounced around the basketball scene, unable to find a sticking spot. He signed a one-year contract to play in Greece, was traded to the Sun’s G-League team, and even played in Germany some. Desperate to prove he could still be a contributor in the NBA, Thompson appeared willing to play wherever.

In October of 2019, Thompson was given yet another shot in the NBA, this time finding his way on the Sacramento Kings’ training camp roster. Thompson was cut, and now plays for the King’s G-League affiliate.

Thompson is currently averaging 8.4ppg in the G-League, but is shooting just 21.1% from three.

Sixer fans really embraced Hollis Thompson during his first few years with the team. He was showing immense potential, and his ability to knock down open threes was something that could have been useful even on a team competing for the playoffs. However, it appears that Thompon’s production with the tanking Sixers was a bit of a mirage.

Being the best player on a 10-win team doesn’t mean much in today’s NBA, and ultimately Hollis was never able to recreate that same level of production. Turning 29 in April, Thompon’s career as an NBA player is all but done.

Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports