Klay Thompson is often overlooked until he goes on one of his scoring binges. With Steph Curry to his left and Kevin Durant to his right, he is the third Warriors option. On most teams, Klay Thompson would be the first or second option but such is life in Warriors land.
When Thompson didn’t make All-NBA which screwed him out of $60 million, he was classic Klay sardonic. The eye roll. The sucking of the teeth. The wtf really? look. But what was more important than anything writers cobbled together for their post season awards is what happened to the Warriors when Klay wasn’t in a home playoff game.
It was redux Steph Curry-Davidson; a show. Meaning Steph was lights out but the Warriors lost. The Warriors need Klay Thompson. Even with a messed up hamstring and sitting on the bench, he proved just how much value he has and how much he is missed.
Come free agency, the Warriors have a no brainer. Give Klay the max.
The Warriors payroll is going to be astronomical with both Klay and Steph on max contracts, and if Kevin Durant re-ups, they will have three max players. But what the NBA Finals have shown us is that you can have as many max players as you want but once they log all of those playoff minutes they are vulnerable. When they have to sit out because of injury, what you have built is in danger of being in crumbles.
Klay doesn’t get a lot of the glamour points. He is stable. A defender and a catch and shoot assassin, he does his job. He goes his own way and his off the court love life is documented from time to time but Klay is not someone you can put into a box. He’s tough. Not playing in Game 3 seemingly killed him. His expression while he sat on the bench was classic Klay, almost like he was told he couldn’t have dinner. He was a cross between pouting, anger, pissed, and rage. You knew he was going to suit up in the next game despite what his hamstring may be telling him. He just couldn’t stomach Shaun Livingston try to take his place. For the unschooled, there is no taking Klay Thompson’s place.
For those of us who have watched his career from Washington State to being disregarded in the lottery- Jimmer Fredette, Derrick Williams, Jan Vesely, Bismack Biyombo were drafted ahead of him-it’s not shocking how Klay Thompson built his career. Once he let go of the fantasy of Kobe Bryant 2.0 and got into the shape needed to rub off screens so he could specialize in catch and shoot, he consistently climbed the NBA star ladder. 12 points. And then 16 points. And then 18 points. Five seasons of 20 ppg. Every season 40% from three. Only one season below 80% from the line.
Part of the reason Klay was so visually bummed when he was a spectator is he just doesn’t miss games. He’s a durable athlete. In the past 5 seasons, he has played in 96% of the Warriors games, missing only 24. This season he missed 4 games. Sitting on the bench in games that count or don’t count isn’t a Klay thing. He doesn’t have a fragile body nor a weak heart. He’s all in. He’s a gamer.
The economics of Klay Thompson is he shows up. He shows up healthy and he shows up hurt. He shows up the 4th game in 5 nights and he shows up with three days off. He competes and cheats no one and has sacrificed once Kevin Durant came to town. But Klay’s perimeter game makes the Warriors offense go.
Credit Klay. He matters despite getting national attention crumbs. But that isn’t even the point. Klay Thompson is what none of the scouts expected but what he and his father always knew.
Gamer. Baller. Max player. The Klay Thompson bio.