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Warriors Links: New and improved Klay Thompson, and a battle against Boston

Plus, the first mock draft of the season, and some interesting Golden State numbers

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NBA: Minnesota Timberwolves at Golden State Warriors Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

If it feels like you’re watching the best Klay Thompson you’ve ever seen, it’s likely because you are. The Golden State Warriors shooting guard may reside partially in the shadows of perennial MVP candidates Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green, but he is a dynamic player.

And this year, the three-time All-Star has gotten even better, by improving a few specific areas of his game. Shane Young at Bballbreakdown did a terrific job dissecting Thompson’s game through the first month of the season.

There’s a lot of in-depth analysis that make the entire piece a must-read, but the highlight is this segment about Thompson’s improved approach:

An interesting development for Thompson so far this season is the mid-range attack. Since 2014-15, no more than 18.9 percent of his shot volume has come from 16-23 feet. This year, 22.7 percent of his shots have come from that distance. One could argue that’s not ideal, but it definitely adds to his offensive variety.

Plus, maybe it’s not surprising, but he’s shooting a career-high on those looks. Thompson is making 56.9 percent of his jumpers from that distance, a full 10 percentage points better than last year. Perhaps both the volume and efficiency on his mid-rangers gets dialed back with a larger sample, but it speaks to a larger point. Since defenders are doing a better job at closing out on him this year and running him off the three-point line, Thompson is doing more reading and reacting than ever before.

Thompson is keeping his attack varied, and that’s opening up the game for him further. It’s part of why he’s shooting a blistering 47.7% from beyond the arc.

But it’s not just his scoring that has improved. For The Athletic, Anthony Slater discussed the new and found playmaking - or as Slater calls it, Klaymaking - skills of Thompson:

Steph Curry missed Monday night's game against the Magic with a sore right thigh. Curry averages nearly seven assists per game. Typically when he's out, the additional playmaking duties shift to Green, Durant and Iguodala and others. They still do. But now a more confident, comfortable Thompson can be relied upon as more than just a catch-and-shoot contraption.

Against the Magic, Thompson sprayed around five assists, already the second time in 14 games he's done that. Last season, Thompson only did it three times in 78 games.

Whether it’s with his shot, or with his passes, Thompson is pretty clearly playing the best basketball of his career. And it is a joy to witness.

Steve Kerr praises the Celtics

Tomorrow is an exciting game: the Warriors, who have won seven games in a row, will be in Boston to challenge the Celtics, who have won 13 in a row. Amazingly, the Celtics have accomplished their NBA-best record despite losing their best player, Gordon Hayward, to a season-ending injury just six minutes into the season.

Not surprisingly, Steve Kerr is impressed. As transcribed by ESPN, Kerr had high praise for Boston, and thinks very bright things are in their future:

It sure looks like Boston is the team of the future in the East, with the assets that they still have and their young talent and their coaching, and Kyrie [Irving] is amazing. That looks like a team that is going to be at the top of the East for a long time to come. Whether their time is now or the future, that's to be determined, but they sure look like they want it to be right now.

Kerr also had some strong words about Boston’s new point guard Irving, whom the Warriors are all too familiar with:

In Cleveland, he was such a dominant force, but it was always going to be LeBron's team. It just looks like Kyrie knows it's his group, and he's thriving with that group of players around him. It just seems like the next stage in his development. He knew what he was doing when he decided to leave. I admire Kyrie. Obviously, he's been a thorn in our side for years, and now he just happens to wear green.

Both the Celtics and the Warriors are playing out of their minds right now. Thursday night can’t get here soon enough.

Never too early for a mock draft!

Mock drafts are one of the most fun traditions in the NBA. At the SB Nation home page, Ricky O’Donnell laid out the first mock of the year.

While most people will be intrigued by the top picks (O’Donnell has Slovenian sensation Luka Doncic going first overall), we’re obviously interested in the Warriors. Picking 29th, the Dubs are projected to take Chandler Hutchison, a 6’7” forward from Boise State.

Of course, thing will change between now and June (including draft position, as the Warriors will likely pick 30th). Still, mock drafts are a fun way of seeing what areas teams will target, and Hutchison - a long, 3-and-D perimeter player - represents an area that Golden State would be interested in.

A few interesting numbers

Over at The Athletic, Marcus Thompson II had a fun article breaking down some interesting numbers from the start of the season. While all the data provided is fascinating, this tidbit in particular stood out:


Draymond’s percentage from inside the arc. While he struggled mightily from 3 to start the season, before finding a groove, he’s been his best ever inside the arc. Last season, he shot 49.6 percent on two-pointers.

That is . . . really, really good.

About that Draymond offense . . .

On the whole, Green’s offensive game has taken a step forward this year. He’s quietly shooting 38.3% from deep, after going just 30.8% last year. His effective field goal percentage (60.8%) and true-shooting percentage (64.5%) are the highest in his career - by a mile.

At the SF Chronicle, Connor Letourneau described the measures Green took to improve his offensive output. Green has a personal trainer, Travis Walton, who is responsible for helping Green’s improvement across the board. That includes everything from sending Green videos of his shot immediately after games, to, well, this:

This past summer, Walton tagged along with Green to the Dominican Republic, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit and Green’s hometown of Saginaw, Mich. It was Walton’s job to check basketballs through airport security and find gymnasiums wherever they landed.

July was devoted to honing Green’s ballhandling and shooting, everything from floaters to three-pointers.

Keep it up, fellas. It’s clearly working.

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