2012 in Review: Tina Thompson
Kevin Pelton, StormBasketball.com | Dec. 13, 2012
The Storm added another legend to the fold in February, signing Tina Thompson, the WNBA's all-time leading scorer. Thompson became the fourth member of the WNBA's Top 15 Players of All Time on the roster and the fourth former No. 1 overall pick.
After a disappointing final season in L.A., Thompson was eager to prove that she still had something left to contribute at age 37. She won a starting spot during training camp, albeit at small forward rather than her natural power forward position, after putting up 20 points and 11 rebounds in two preseason games.
The Storm started the season by playing Thompson's former team, the Sparks, both home and away. She had 12 points and eight rebounds, then followed it up with 13 points the next game. Despite Thompson's efforts, the starting lineup failed to click, and Brian Agler moved fellow legend Katie Smith into the starting five in place of Thompson to start June.
While the role change was an adjustment for Thompson, who had started all but two games in her WNBA career before 2012, she quickly found a rhythm as a reserve by scoring double figures in five consecutive games from June 9-22. During that span, she averaged 12.2 points and made more than half of her three-point attempts (12-23).
Thompson's best game of 2012 came when she briefly moved back into the starting lineup following Ann Wauters' Achilles injury. On July 1 at Connecticut, Thompson scored a season-high 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting, adding seven rebounds and four blocked shots while helping the Storm hold MVP Tina Charles in check. Thompson's efforts keyed an 89-83 overtime win, the Storm's first at Mohegan Sun Arena in nine years.
During the Storm's next game at Los Angeles, Thompson got a scare when she tumbled to the floor during the fourth quarter. While she avoided a season-ending injury, Thompson did sprain her left MCL and suffered nerve damage to her leg. She would spend most of the month-long Olympic Break rehabbing the injury, the most serious of her career. Remarkably, Thompson was back in the lineup when the Storm resumed play after the Olympics, though lingering issues forced her back to the sidelines after less than two games.
On Aug. 26, Thompson returned for good at the same time as Wauters, putting the Storm at full strength. She contributed five points in 11 minutes during a blowout win over New York. While her mobility was limited, Thompson was gradually able to do more and more. She had 10 points in 11 minutes against Phoenix on Aug. 30 and 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting in 15 minutes a week later vs. Tulsa.
During September, Thompson never played more than 20 minutes in any game but still managed to reach double-figure scoring four times and shoot 62.2 percent for the month. The effort moved Thompson close to a groundbreaking milestone. On Sept. 18, early in the second quarter of the Storm's win over the Chicago Sky at KeyArena, Thompson became the first player in WNBA history to reach 7,000 career points. While she downplayed the accomplishment because of her focus on team goals, Storm fans were excited to share in the historic moment.
Though Thompson had nine points and seven rebounds in just 11 minutes during Game 1 of the Storm's playoff series against Minnesota, her impact would truly be felt during Game 2. Because of Camille Little's foul trouble and Lauren Jackson fouling out, Thompson played 27 minutes during the double-overtime affair, putting up 10 points and nine rebounds. She made a key three-pointer during the second OT, helping the Storm pull away for the win. With post players avoiding fouls, Thompson played a smaller role in the deciding Game 3, finishing with two points and four rebounds in 13 minutes.
Because of her injury and the Storm's depth, Thompson's per-game stats don't reflect how well she played for the Storm. Thompson increased her scoring average per 40 minutes from 15.9 to 18.7 and shot a career-high 42.7 percent from three-point range. As a result, while Thompson planned to evaluate her future over the winter, she anticipated returning for the second season of her contract in 2013.
- Scored double-figures five consecutive games from June 9-22.
- Posted a season-high 20 points at Connecticut on July 1.
- Became the first WNBA player to score 7,000 career points during the Storm's Sept. 18 win over Chicago.
- Had 10 points and nine rebounds in the Storm's Game 2 win against Minnesota.
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