Klay Thompson is 27 years old. He’s just entering the prime of his career. He is a two time champion, a world-traveled superstar, and a member of the best team on the planet. He has spent the off-season partying in China, dancing in his own laid back manner. He spent the actual season guarding the opponent’s best backcourt player, and swishing shot after shot on his own.
With the acquisition of Kevin Durant, Thompson seemingly was forced to take a bit of a backseat in the scheme of the Warriors’ offense, but when you look at his numbers from the 2016-17 season compared to the prior campaign, you see that he did not — in fact — really sacrifice anything in terms of touches, shots, or importance.
Seriously, check it out.
[All stats via basketball-reference.com]
2015-16: Thompson played 33.3 minutes per game (MPG), had 17.2 field goal attempts (FGA) per game, 22.1 points per game (PPG), with a player efficiency rating (PER) of 18.6, and a true shooting (TS) percentage of 59.7%.
So, now, compare to 2016-17, using the same hand picked categories: 34.0 MPG, 17.6 FGA, 22.3 PPG, PER = 17.4, TS% = 59.2%.
WHOA. That is remarkably consistent work from a guy who was theoretically taking a huge backseat to an incoming former MVP. He played more minutes per game, attempted slightly more shots per game, and scored more each game. Pretty good.
However, after getting voted to the 2015-16 All-NBA Third Team, this year he took a step back, missing out on an All-NBA team by a wide margin. He had 14 total points from voters, tied with Kyrie Irving and trailing Hassan Whiteside.
Even if voters were blinded by the continued brilliance and overarching dominance of the 2016-17 Golden State Warriors, and even if that had a negative impact on Thompson’s perceived “value” within the NBA, he still came to work and balled out of his mind on a nightly basis. The numbers back this up, as does this video, which is just downright stupendous:
Steve Kerr’s reaction pretty much summed it up:
Seriously, the dude scored 60 m’fing points on 11 total dribbles while touching the ball 52 times and only actually holding the ball for 90 total seconds. C’mon man. That’s just stupid.
But the real highlight from his season came after winning his second championship. He went to China, and promptly became an internet sensation, churning out viral video after viral video.
The man is on fire. He’s young. He’s rich. He’s a multiple time All-Star and multiple time champion. He sports some strange shoes. He plays on the world’s best team. Out of all the crazy stuff you’ve done in your life, have you ever even achieved a single one of those things? I think for me, the only thing I’ve ever done in common with Thompson was the “He’s young,” part, because, yeah, once upon a time I was young. However, those days are gone. I see them sprinting away in the rear view mirror.
And yeah, I know this is really supposed to be a season review, and yes we should have spent more time talking about Klay Thompson’s stats and individual games from the 2016-17 season, or how he averaged 16.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game in the 2017 NBA Finals (side note, I just remembered that Stephen Curry averaged 26.8 points, 8.0 rebounds, 9.4 assists, and 2.2 steals per game in the Finals and basically no one cared because Durant was so transcendent. Man ........... what a team. Seriously. What a team. This is crazy. Okay, sorry. Sorry for the tangent), but really the 60 point, 11 dribble game, and the subsequent off-season shenanigans kind of sum up what it means to be Klay Thompson right now.
The dude is on fire, and he’s living life to the fullest. That seems like a pretty dang awesome combination of forces to me.