Klay Thompson is having a historically wretched season when compared to the Klay Thompson standards. For the first time in his career, he is not draining 40% of his threes. He is taking the most shots he has taken in his seven years as a NBA shooter, but is less efficient. His assists are down, his 20 points per game, on the surface, look like the same old Klay thing but in no one’s world should Klay Thompson have an offensive rating that is lower than D’Angelo Russell (Brooklyn Nets). But Russell’s 103 rating for the Nets is one point higher than Thompson’s 102.
Klay was in the vortex of his slump on Christmas Day, taking only 7 shots when he averages 18. But that wasn’t an outlier, his less than extraordinary self.
He is worse on the road than at home. He can’t seem to make shots with three minutes or less left in the quarter. His exceptional 3-ball is no better or no worse than say Fred Van Vleet of the Raptors and that’s not a problem unless you are saying that Van Vleet is one of the best distance shot makers of his generation. He’s not.
Klay’s “slump” as the Warriors are calling it, a recent barrage of below average, 16 points (Memphis), 12 points (Utah), 14 points (Dallas), 12 points (Clippers), 5 points (Lakers), highlight what has been an off year for Thompson and look, everyone has them, years that are less than more. But it isn’t supposed to happen to a player who is considered one of the best of his generation, one of the best ever.
Because of his past consistency and bright lights moments, Klay is pretty much given a pass which will last until the playoffs. He has earned the benefit of the doubt and the truth about what is wrong with him is somewhere in the middle of he’s fatigued after 100+ games four years in a row, and he’s a victim of the Warriors size, or lack thereof.
Without a big man- Kevon Looney makes no one tremble- the guards are being defended in a way that would have burned the opposition in years past. Teams are ignoring Looney in order to double Curry or Durant, or Curry and Thompson. Thompson doesn’t have the lanes of years past because the Warriors have real issues up front. Their Death Lineup is history. Now, against teams with skilled big men, they are forced to make shots. Those teams suddenly know how to defend the Warriors and the Warriors struggle defending them. Yes, fatigue. Perhaps, or more.
What can’t be denied is the Warriors lack of depth once you get past their All-Star four of Curry, Thompson, Durant and Green.
Jonas Jerekbo, Kevon Looney, Quinn Cook, Alfonzo McKinnie aren’t bad players, but not the reinforcements you need on a championship team. Boogie Cousins will help with their size problem once he gets back but until then the Warriors are stuck in quicksand grinding out wins, or, not making threes. They look very vulnerable.
It’s not that the Warriors don’t understand how much they need size. They tried to get Tyson Chandler but he wanted to be in L.A. The thing is, unlike years past no one on the Warriors is playing defense other than Draymond Green. The Warriors offensive ratings are through the roof as normal but their defensive ratings are pitiful. 110, Kevin Durant. 112, Klay Thompson. 111, Steph Curry. 111 Andre Iguodala. The Warriors have seemingly become offensive specialists with average or worse defense.
The Lakers made 55% of their shots and almost 39% of their threes. The Warriors made 40% of their shots and 25% of their threes. Of course, they lost.
It’s been two weeks since the Warriors have made 40% of their threes. In a third of their games this year, they have made 30% of their threes or less. That’s a problem because the three ball is what makes the Warriors the Warriors. This time last year, the Warriors made 30% of their threes (or less) a total of 3 times. These are interesting and unusual times in the Bay.
There is an old saying that one game didn’t put you in a slump and it can’t get you out of a slump. Klay Thompson is in a contract year. He is an experienced shooter, a consistent one, with confidence. All bets are on Klay rediscovering himself.
The Warriors want a 3-peat in their swan song in Oakland. But it can only happen if Klay is Klay, considering their lack of depth. The Warriors need Klay more than ever.
Even with a normal Klay Thompson, the Warriors have to find some size up front to man the middle and create open lanes. You know, like last year when they had JaVale McGee.