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A way-too-early glance at Klay’s stats

How do they compare to before his injury?

Golden State Warriors v Memphis Grizzlies Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images

Klay Thompson is back, and draining threes for the Golden State Warriors.

You know this, because you’re a Warriors fan. I didn’t need to say it.

But I wanted to say it. Because after two and a half years sidelined by major lower-body injuries, Klay Thompson is back, and draining threes for the Golden State Warriors. And it’s going to be a long time before that loses its shine. So until that happens, I’m going to keep saying it.

Klay Thompson is back, and draining threes for the Golden State Warriors.

Here, you say it.

Klay Thompson is back, and draining threes for the Golden State Warriors.

It’s nice, isn’t it?

Now, it’s entirely too early to evaluate Thompson’s play, beyond saying, “holy smokes, he looks good and healthy, and like he’ll be back to his All-Star self in a week or two.”

But just for fun ... let’s look at some of the stats relative through two games, comparing them to his last season in 2018-19.

Scoring

Points per 100 possessions
2021-22: 37.7
2018-19: 30.1

Field goal attempts per 100 possessions
2021-22: 37.7
2018-19: 25.2

Three-point attempts per 100 possessions
2021-22: 15.8
2018-19: 10.7

The data matches what your eyes have told you: Klay is shooting a lot. And that’s by the standards of Klay himself, who famously said, “I’m not sacrificing shit” during a pitch to Kevin Durant, when the team was discussing dispersing shots between their stars.

Thompson’s shot attempts will come down. He’s got an eager trigger finger with his shots after years of being off the court, and that’s surely been encouraged by his teammates and even the coaching staff. As the novelty of being back on hardwood wears off, and he becomes more comfortable, we’ll surely see him shoot a little less, and likely score a little less as well.

But it’s worth noting that very few of Thompson’s 31 field goal attempts have been poor selection. The fact that he’s able to still get his shot off at will is a very encouraging sign.

Efficiency

Two-point field goal percentage
2021-22: 38.9%
2018-19: 51.6%

Three-point field goal percentage
2021-22: 38.5%
2018-19: 40.2%

True-shooting percentage
2021-22: 48.6%
2018-19: 57.1%

In the last two year’s of speculation, many hypothesized that Thompson would at least be able to return to decency thanks to his jump shot, which was unlikely to be negatively impacted by the ACL and Achilles surgeries. So far that looks accurate, as his three-point percentage through two games still resembles that of a sharpshooter, especially when you account for how much attention defenses are giving him.

On the whole, though, his efficiency has been poor, which is largely the result of shooting a low percentage from inside the arc.

Is this something to worry about? Not even remotely. First off, his excitement to shoot has resulted in the bulk of Klay’s twos coming off the dribble ... he’s not yet getting the easy looks that he’s been able to get in the past on cuts. Only 50% of his buckets have been assisted this season; that number was 80.2% in 2018-19.

Furthermore, as he reestablishes himself as a superstar scorer, defenses will pay even more focus to him from 25 feet away, opening up more avenues for easy buckets at the rim. Few players have benefitted from their own gravity as much as Klay.

And finally, he’s still getting his legs about him. It’s encouraging to see him so fearlessly attacking the rim, but history tells us it will take a while before he gets full strength, and gets used to what that feels like.

Rebounds and assists

Rebounds per 100 possessions
2021-22: 7.3
2018-19: 5.4

Assists per 100 possessions
2021-22: 4.9 per
2018-19: 3.3 per

It’s going to be awhile before the sample size is big enough for us to declare anything about Klay’s ability to fill out the box score beyond the scoring columns. But if anyone thought he had just returned to fire up a bunch of shots, here you go: his assist and rebound rates are currently career highs, by a huge margin.

Defense

Steals per 100 possessions
2021-22: 1.2
2018-19: 1.5

Blocks per 100 possessions
2021-22: 2.4
2018-19: 0.8

These numbers mean essentially nothing, except it’s noteworthy that Thompson is attacking on defense. There are some areas on that end of the floor where he looks a little rusty, but there’s no doubting that Klay has his aggression, in all areas of the game.

Negatives

Turnovers per 100 possessions
2021-22: 6.1
2018-19: 2.1

Fouls per 100 possessions
2021-22: 4.9
2018-19: 2.8

No surprises here. Thompson is rusty, excited, and aggressive. That’s going to be reflected in how much he fouls and commits turnovers.

Both will come down, likely quickly.

In summation, we don’t know anything, but if we did, it would be encouraging.