When you watch a Golden State Warriors game, it can be easy to miss Klay Thompson. He doesn’t scream, roar, and gesticulate like Draymond Green. He doesn’t stand out as a physical specimen like Kevin Durant. And he doesn’t create an endless stream of highlights like Stephen Curry.
And if you blink, you’ll miss him.
Thompson may not seek attention, but he’s clearly one of the league’s elite players. And while his defense is incredible, and his playmaking improved, it’s always been his shot that make him a great player.
If you’ve ever wondered how Thompson manages to always get his shot off, even when crowded by a defender, well, you’re not alone. FiveThirtyEight broke down Thompson’s ability to find shooting space, which they determined was largely due to his incredibly quick transition from catching to shooting.
. . . NBA shooters need space to breathe. A cushion from a defender allows a player to do his job successfully: It gives him time to turn and face the basket, bend his knees to develop rhythm and square his feet.
Then there’s Klay Thompson, who often does none of these things yet still hits threes at a better-than-40-percent clip and strikes fear in just about every NBA defense. “You ever had someone walk right up on you and talk a few inches away from your face?” asked Warriors assistant Bruce Fraser. “That’s Klay. It’s like he doesn’t mind not having space when he shoots.” . . .
. . . Thompson has established his own version of hot potato this past season, in which he launched a total of 302 catch-and-shoot triples within 0.79 seconds of touching the ball, according to an analysis run by STATS SportVu at FiveThirtyEight’s request. The next-closest player, C.J. Miles, had just 192. What’s more, Thompson hits the quick-trigger triples at nearly the same clip, 43.4 percent, as when he takes his time and composes himself. When told of these numbers, Thompson put it best: “Sheesh.”
The article goes on to explore how Thompson is able to achieve such remarkable numbers. If you didn’t respect his shot already, you will after hearing him talk about it.
The best quarter of the season
At the halfway point of Saturday’s contest against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Warriors looked destined for their second consecutive defeat. They were down 22 on the road, and looked lifeless on both sides of the floor.
And then the third quarter happened. Curry broke from a slump to pour in 20 points, the Dubs showered in 47 points in total, and held the Sixers to a lowly 15-point frame. When all was said and done, the 22-point deficit was a 10-point lead, and the game felt over before the fourth quarter started.
So, how did they do it? Anthony Slater of The Athletic had a great description:
The expected: Durant buried a batch of jumpers from various spots, scoring 10 of his 27 points in the frame on 4-of-6 shooting and Curry awoke in what's traditionally his favorite quarter, outscoring the Sixers 20-15 in the third by himself (more on that in a second).
The unexpected: Kevon Looney, a plus-19 in the game, bullied around the Sixers bigs for four rebounds in a small window, including a power and-1 over Embiid. Then Nick Young entered for the first time and nailed a contested, fading corner 3 at the 2:59 mark of the third, giving the Warriors the lead nine minutes after they trailed by 22. Then a defensive possession later, Young took a charge.
During it all — and especially after the Young charge absorption — the bench was rocking. Then to close out the stampede, Draymond Green slipped by a shellshocked Sixers defense for a free pick-and-roll slip and uncontested lefty dunk with 4 seconds left in the quarter.
If you have League Pass, I highly recommend reliving the magical quarter.
Curry asks for social media respect
There’s been an odd trend on social media lately. It’s called the #CurryChallenge, and one search of that hashtag on Instagram or Twitter will show you everything you need to know.
In the #CurryChallenge, fans have been pretending to be Steph Curry in non-basketball situations. They imitate Curry’s on-court mannerisms, and find some object to use while shooting one of his most famous shots: his sky-high eurostep floater during a layup line last year.
As is always the case with viral trends, some people have taken it to far. One popular video features a kid at a red light running onto a stranger’s car and attempting the challenge from the roof.
According to ESPN, Curry has responded in his typical, mature fashion:
It's very creative. People are obviously having fun, but please be respectful of other people's property. I don't want anything to happen to anyone . . . I will just say be very mindful of the repercussions of messing with people's stuff. I do not condone violence. That is the only thing. I do not condone violence.
Hard not to love this guy.
Fresh for June?
Not surprisingly, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been one of the hot topics in the season’s first month. Most expect the Cavs to meet the Warriors in the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive season, yet Cleveland has gotten off to an uncharacteristically slow start.
Because of this, coach Ty Lue has had to rely on LeBron James to play a large number of minutes, a fact that has not slipped by Draymond Green. Asked if Cavs fans should be worried about Cleveland’s start, Green had some interesting thoughts, as transcribed by SLAM.
I don’t think anyone should be panicking 12 games in, or 13 games in. However, there are some glaring concerns with them. And at the same time, you’re missing a 30-point (per game) player (in Isaiah Thomas) on the bench who’s hurt. So my concern would be that LeBron is playing so many minutes right now
James leads the league in minutes, playing 37.9 per game, despite being in his 15th season. For context, Durant leads the Warriors with 34.3 minutes per game, 23rd in the NBA.
James’ minutes have been a conversation starter, but, according to ESPN, his coach doesn’t care:
"I hear about that all the time," a somewhat perturbed Lue said. "I played with Michael Jordan when he was 39; he played 37 minutes a night. Karl Malone was 37, played 38 minutes a night, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Kobe [Bryant]. Everybody's built different. If you're one of the greats, sometimes you've got to play, sometimes you get rest like tonight."
If the Cavs and Warriors do meet in June once again, we’ll find out if these early season minutes mattered.
Remembering the iconic moments
If you’re a fan of all Bay Area sports, this one’s for you. Steve Berman of The Athletic put together a list of the ten greatest calls in Bay Area sports history. They’re all worth a listen.
Golden State cracks the list twice: first, with radio voice Tim Roye’s call of Curry’s corner three against the New Orleans Pelicans in the 2015 playoffs. And second, with Greg Papa’s excitement as Sleepy Floyd erupted for 51 points in the 1987 playoffs.
If you need to reminisce, now’s your chance.