Klay Thompson fell short of winning ESPY's 'Best Record-Breaking Performance' Award for his NBA record 37-point third quarter outburst. Nonetheless, his play this season proved to the league that he belongs in the upper echelon of shooting guards.
When Thompson is in the zone, he's firing on all cylinders and getting buckets in a hurry. His record-breaking 37 point quarter en-route to a career-high 52 points demonstrated sheer confidence in his shooting stroke. In these blazing sequences, teammates cannot help not feeding the rock to Thompson. Yet Ethan Sherwood Strauss of ESPN wrote a column about Thompson's 26-point second quarter against the Memphis Grizzlies that detailed a drawback when Thompson has the hot hand.
"I was disappointed, actually," Kerr said. "That was the one thing I was disappointed about in the first half, and I told the guys. They were so frantically trying to get the ball to Klay. That's the perfect time to get somebody else a layup because the defense is swarming around Klay."
As Steve Kerr highlighted, these scenarios would ideally get teammates an easier shot with Thompson attracting all the defensive attention; as Strauss alluded to, there's a tension between Thompson's scoring explosions and an offense that not only doesn't demand that but also encourages a distribution of the burden. While Thompson may be considered the team's secondary scoring weapon, his presence forces defenders to close-out tight and give less help which should result in more even scoring opportunities.
Yet Klay Thompson's big performances during the championship season also underscore what a major beneficiary he was of the Warriors' new free-flowing offense under Steve Kerr. With the ability to move without the ball, defenders often get trapped by the various down screens which free him up for high efficiency shot attempts. On top of that, Thompson has elite catch-and-shot footwork and never hesitates when taking a deep triple.
ShotMechanics did a thorough analysis and broke down Klay Thompson's shooting during his 37-point quarter against the Sacramento Kings. Whether it's a transition, pull-up or catch-and-shoot three-pointer, his skills as a shooter are fundamentally sound.
Despite being a spectacular jump shooter, Thompson also had a knack to catch the defense off guard and attack the rim. Instead of always settling for jumpers, he reacted to what defenses were giving him. Furthermore, he was adept at moving off the ball and making hard back-door cuts for easy buckets when defenders overplayed him.
An underrated aspect of Thompson's game may be his defensive work. This season, Thompson proved that he was an above-average defender and used his length to contain his man. One of his top defensive performances came against the Houston Rockets when he registered a career-best five blocks. The Warriors' two-way star went toe-to-toe with James Harden and apparently watching Thompson block Harden is quite popular.
On a serious note, Thompson had career-highs of 1.1 steals and 0.8 blocks per game. He also averaged 21.7 points to go along with 3.2 rebounds and 2.9 assists this past year while playing less minutes than his 2nd and 3rd year. Furthermore, he knocked down 239 threes which was second overall in the NBA to teammate Stephen Curry.
Klay Thompson unveiled the complete package for the Warriors this past season. In his fourth season, he was named to his first All-Star team and selected to the All-NBA Third Team. While he continues to grow as a player, Thompson has already established himself for years to come.
Remember the rumored deal for Kevin Love last summer? Boy, are we glad Golden State backed out and held on to Klay Thompson.
For more reviews of the Warriors' championship run, check out our 2014-15 Warriors Season-In-Review section.