The storyline of Kevin Durant returning to Seattle for the first time since his rookie season dominated all of the headlines leading up to the Golden State Warriors’ preseason tilt with the Sacramento Kings on Friday night.
But it was Klay Thompson who treated the sellout Key Arena crowd to a show, as the Warriors demolished the Kings 122-94.
Thompson scored 19 of his 30 points in the game’s opening nine minutes, absolutely torching a hapless Kings’ defense, while Durant pored in a quietly efficient 26 points.
Even in this glorified scrimmage, the Warriors once again established solid habits to take with them into the regular season. Crisp ball movement and scoring efficiency are the central themes of this game. Golden State ended the game with 27 assists on 38 field goals. In addition to the assists, the Warriors played smothering and engaged defense from start to finish-holding Sacramento to 34 percent from the field and forcing 16 turnovers.
Unsung aspects of Thompson’s performance
Obviously, Thompson going “human torch mode” early in the first quarter and staying on fire from the perimeter will be the talk of this game. However, there are other parts of Thompson’s game tonight that shouldn’t go unnoticed. I liked seeing an aggressive Thompson driving and finishing in the lane. Whether or not “slashing Klay” is a trend remains to be seen but the possibility should be considered. Thompson prowess from deep is well documented and so is his tendencies as a spot up shooter. Taking advantage of opposing defenses respect along the perimeter opens up possibilities in the lane.
Thompson snagged four rebounds in the game. Granted it’s not much, but it’s all about the effort. At his size, Thompson could be a capable rebounder if motivated. What I saw in those rebounds is the willingness to mix it up and hustle. Maybe assistant coach Ron Adams can issue a season long rebounding challenge for Thompson to add to his game.
The case for the fringe players
The absences of Stephen Curry and Draymond Green opened up a huge opportunity for the camp invitees to prove themselves to coach Kerr and the rest of the staff. Marcus Derrickson continues to impress. The big from Georgetown once again demonstrated his agility and his ability to knockdown an outside shot. He made his presence known on the boards as well, grabbing seven rebounds which tied Damian Jones for the team lead.
Daniel House, Kendrick Nunn, and Alfonzo McKinnie combined for 16 of the Warriors’ 51 bench points and they all showed hustle on defense. Solid effort by each of these players and should be taken into consideration in the forthcoming days.
Constant energy and effort
It isn’t a secret that one of the Warriors biggest weakness is their tendency to squander huge leads. The source of this tendency can be attributed to lack of focus and letting up on defense. I didn't see any of that against the Kings. I saw the same aggressive first half defense in the second. This is also worth noticing:
Warriors up 36 in garbage time still running good action with their bench guys. If you run good sets and freelance motion, you probably do it all the time.— Cranjis McBasketball (@T1m_NBA) October 6, 2018
Late in the game, the Warriors held a 36-point lead and played with the focus and intensity of a team that’s trailing. It’s fair to attribute this to the eagerness of the fringe players to prove themselves. Regardless, this type of focus is refreshing for a team that has issues with retaining it and is necessary going into the regular season.