It is hard to quantify the greatness of Klay Thompson by statistics alone. But it is even harder to realize the passion and heart that he plays with on a nightly basis.
His quiet laid back personality and calculated shooting stroke resembles that of a heartless cyborg, one who's only mission is to terminate. If you watch Klay shoot from the waist up, his form is exactly the same every time. His right elbow at a perfect 90 degree angle while his eyes lock on the basket, waiting for the ok to launch another three point missile.
Apparently, I am not the only one who thinks this as Warriors' GM Bob Myers tells ESPN.com:
"He's like the first Terminator -- the one who doesn't say anything, but computes his mission in his head. The Terminator's mission is to kill John Connor. Klay's mission is to win games."
This is something that the Warriors have seen in Thompson since his draft date in 2011.
Golden State believed in Klay when they traded starting shooting guard Monta Ellis to Milwaukee in 2012. And the Warriors continued to believe in Thompson even after dangling him like a piece of red meat over the Timberwolves in exchange for the tantalizing soft and gooey center of Kevin Love.
"You don't see it with Klay," Steve Kerr told ESPN.com. "You don't hear it. He rarely speaks. But that guy is a baller."
"It wasn't surprising when Green barked out the names of all 34 players drafted ahead of him in 2012. Thompson, the No. 11 pick in 2011, quietly burns the same fuel for motivation.
Thompson holds a semi-tongue-in-cheek grudge against the Kings for daring to draft another shooter, Jimmer Fredette, over him. "I considered myself the best shooter in that draft, so when someone took another shooter over me, it was a slap in the face," Thompson told ESPN.com after Game 1 of the Finals.
He delights in reminding teammates and coaches behind closed doors that two Cavaliers, Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson, went ahead of him in the same draft; he quips that the Cavs took "the wrong Thompson," team officials say. "He definitely remembers Kyrie went before him," assistant GM Kirk Lacob told ESPN.com. "I can say that for sure."
When the league revealed the All-NBA teams last month, with Damian Lillard making the second team ahead of Thompson, he steamed, team officials said. He stormed around the locker room, asking if voters had watched him defend Lillard in the second round. They politely reminded Thompson that voters submit ballots before the playoffs."
There is nothing more evident with the 2016 Golden State Warriors than their desire to win. It is players like Klay Thompson, who has every right to brag about keeping the Dub's historical 73 win season afloat. But he doesn't. He just supports his teammates and plays his heart out, every single night.
However this side of Klay can be hard to see by basketball fans. According to Lowe, the Spurs held two private workouts for Thompson before the 2011 draft to get a better idea if he was worth trading up for. Per Lowe:
Chip Engelland, the Spurs' shooting guru, told the front office something that made their hair stand on end, officials remember: Thompson's competitive nature reminded him of Manu Ginobili.
"There's something deep in there," Engelland recalled. "He has that chip. When you see it, you know it."
Assistant Coach Ron Adams says that nobody takes a loss harder than Thompson. And the way in which he maliciously fended off the Oklahoma City Thunder in game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, it seems like nobody wants to win more than Klay as well.
There is no doubt about it, this Warriors' team is historically great. And it is because of players like Klay Thompson, who play with the precision and skill of a robot yet compete with the heart of a champion.
Read Zach Lowe's full piece titled "Klay Thompson dares you to underestimate him" on ESPN.com.