Jerry West see's a player.
Klay Thompson is better than Kawhi Leonard. He's the 2nd best player taken in the 2011 draft. Similar to Rick Barry, it is unclear whether Thompson's best quality is his shooting prowess, or his ability to see the floor. As a rookie, Thompson already has the strongest fundamental foundation on the team. He simply plays the game the correct way. He's very good.
In an age where players like Kevin Love are swept under the rug because they are not athletic enough to compete in the NBA, Klay Thompson faced a comparable dynamic when his ability to defend in the this league was questioned, along with his potential to be more than Kyle Korver. Even the beloved Steph Curry went through the same thing. The majority of the fans on Goldenstateofmind.com, had no idea who Thompson even was as a player, immediately calling out for Kawhi Leonard or even Marcus Morris before even giving him a chance to prove himself.
Not since Ray Allen has a more laser perfect stroke been introduced to fans of the game. With Klay, it no longer seems to come down to hitting or missing shots, but simply the execution of his form. It does not matter if he is drifting around a screen, dribbling backwards, or streaking down the court to stop on a dime, Thompson has shown a very unique ability to square up on or off the dribble, and execute his form with perfect replication.
Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson make up for the most efficient backcourt in the NBA, easily. given 30-36 minutes a night each, teams would be unable to stop that sort of firepower, especially considering that both players are the son's of ex-NBA players, and are exceptionally well versed in matters of basketball IQ.
Both are unselfish and understand the manipulation of defenses through ball movement and constant threat of the high percentage shot. Great shooters understand that giving up the dribble weakens their greatest weapon, and thus allows the defense to cheat. Curry and Thompson understanding this, would make for a much more potent offense.
Court Vision and Passing
I watched a play where Thompson's court vision impressed me:
He caught the ball in motion as he crossed the three point line on the left side and met a charging defender who emerged from the paint. Klay switched the ball to his left and executed a hesitation move, which forced the defender to pause against his momentum, leaving him staggered. In the midst of the hesitation, a help defender behind Thompson reached for the ball, and sensing this, Klay then threw the ball ahead of himself, passed the staggered defender to his right side, took a long step to catch up with the ball, and then quickly secured it with both hands as he was now at the rim. The center left Jeremy Tyler, and challenged Thompson as he left his feet for the attack. As soon as the center left the ground, Klay threw a wrap-around pass that led to a Tyler dunk.
His head is always up. His awareness and cool allowed him to stay in the play long enough to see how it fared out. And when it did, he made the right decision.
"I watched Klay all through grade school (played against my son in Portland before moving to LA) and on the tube when he was at WSU. When he was a kid, he excelled at seeing the floor and playmaking. The best I had ever seen. His shooting came along as he got older. The only thing that will hold Klay back is himself. As long has he gains sufficient confidence and doesn't get down on himself he will excel as a starter." - David, Warriors Fan
Getting down on himself seems to be Klay's biggest enemy. Jim Barnett stated that he'd like to see Klay smile more. So would I. I speculate that he is unhappy that he is not playing well enough to decisively take Dorell Wright's position, even though it is obvious that he is the better player in all facets of the game.
Pride and Confidence
Klay has an edge to his game - A quiet determination that drives him to compete. He does not seem so impressed with the national attention the game receives, not enough so that it will make or break his mentality. This is extremely rare for a young player.
It was a preseason game that he shot 2-15 and had a terrible game, but he was determined to find his touch, and was not afraid to sacrifice what seemed like a futile effort in order to prepare himself for the real thing. As the season progressed into the very early stages, Thompson absolutely struggled to score on a very fundamental level. This did not slow him down one bit. As a rookie, missing a high volume of consecutive shots can be devastating to your confidence.
This guy believes in his game. He finds conviction in his talent, and believes in it. That's the kind of true grit that great players are made of.
It comes back to his pride as a player, and as Mark Jackson loves to say, "holding himself accountable".
He has not fouled out of a game this season, and he understands how to defend without fouling. He does not put his hands on players, he moves his feet, he stays down, and he forces his opponent into the help. Watch him off the ball. He understands how to disable passing lanes, and he always takes the correct angle on his man relative to the ball.
He isn't scared of crashing the glass, and understands his length as an advantage. He challenges shots at the rim and tries to block them. He is not a quitter.
How does Stephen Jackson score despite being an average shooter and a poor ball handler? He understands how to use triple threat.
Klay Thompson does not terminate the dribble. He does not waste dribbles. Like Jackson, he understands that triple threat can keep your defender in a limbo, and is great for setting up drives, especially when you are ambidextrous. Thompson makes great use of the left hand, and can pass or finish with it.
He has wonderful body control in close, which allows him to finish under the rim over the bigs. He never loses his head at the rim and takes his time in a hurry. This allows him to make use of an assortment of moves. He's aware of how to get an open shot in traffic without being in a rush.
He's the perfect running mate for Stephen Curry and David Lee. All three of them have a high BB IQ (Lee, especially) and Thompson takes some pressure off of Curry, (not being a natural point guard) allowing him a teammate to take on some of the decision-making duties.
Curry's strengths are tremendous off the ball, as a spot-up shooter. Klay allows him to be this, as Thompson understands how to secure the ball, create an angle, and set up teammates.
Thompson's strengths are tremendous of the ball, as a spot-up shooter. Their strengths are symmetric. Curry does for Thompson off the ball, just Thompson does for Curry.
Thompson is the real deal and a pure basketball player. He understands the game much more than Monta Ellis, and should be awarded his position as the Warriors' starting shooting guard. He is the perfect running mate for Stephen Curry, and at the end of the day, both players will be better for it.
Would you rather have Monta Ellis or Klay Thompson as your future starting 2 guard?