NBA: Minor player or part of the core? Thompson’s fine line

The Golden State Warriors haven’t really arrived in the season yet, in addition to the disappointing youngsters and the aftermath of the preparation, Klay Thompson also makes a negative contribution with the worst numbers of his career. He defends himself against criticism – and there are also signs of improvement.

8 out of 16 successful throws from the field, 20 points and a 111:101 win against the New York Knicks – what sounds like a good but unspectacular evening for a player of Klay Thompson’s caliber was actually something special in the current situation. For the first time this season, the Warriors star managed to sink at least half of his throws into the opposing basket in a game. Maybe it was a kind of initial spark, two days later the 32-year-old followed ten more threesomes in Houston, as many as almost four years ago.

Admittedly, between games in which the sniper was not a factor at all (2 points, 1/8 FG against the Suns at the end of October or 9, 3/13 FG against the Cavs on November 11th), there were also bright spots from time to time, so for example, in a loss in Orlando, when Thompson sank 7 of his 15 threes and had 27 points. However, it is unmistakable that he only has something to do with the player he was before his injury odyssey between 2019 and 2022.

The story of his almost endless suffering due to a cruciate ligament and an Achilles tendon rupture is well known, in January the four-time champion was finally able to make his much-celebrated comeback after almost 31 months. The Warriors declared Klay Day, Draymond Green was in the starting five alongside his longtime colleague despite an injury, only to say goodbye to the game after seven seconds – the return was so special, Thompson is so important for the only franchise , for which he has run up to now and will probably also run up.

Since Thompson not only has a few catch-and-shoot threes, but one Poster dunk and several strong drives (even if it ultimately took 18 throws for 17 points), there was great hope that he hadn’t lost any of his old form – an unrealistic wish after such a long time, as everyone involved before and after emphasized. “I’m so happy that I can even look at the stat sheet and read my name there. I can still dunk, still get to my spots and shoot, I know that now. It’s all uphill from here.” , Thompson clarified, comparing the day to winning a championship.

Klay Thompson vs. critic: “Don’t listen to it”

In fact, Thompson went through ups and downs for the rest of the season, was rested on back-to-backs and also repeatedly had games that went past him and in which the throw, which had been so reliable before, did not want to fall. Regular-season ratings were the worst of his career (42.9 percent FG, 38.5 percent 3FG), with an upward trend toward the playoffs with four 30+ points in the last ten games. However, nothing should change in the odds there either, the point average even fell to 19 points, in the successful final series against the Celtics he did not want to succeed much.

In addition to the problems on the offensive that can be read from the figures, doubts have also been growing since the comeback as to how great the influence of the former noble defender can still be at the other end of the field. Speed, lateral mobility, pulling offensive fouls – all things that are almost impossible to recover after such a break from injury. “It seems like he can no longer keep up with the pace of the game,” Bill Simmons questioned in his podcast in May whether a finals run would even be possible with defensive minus players Thompson and Jordan Poole. “They will be chasing Klay and Poole all the time,” he said in reference to upcoming clashes with either Ja Morant or Luka Doncic.

The outcome is known, Thompson spoke plainly, especially after game 1 against the Mavs: “I’m proud of my defense, regardless of whether people say I’m not up to it anymore. I think I’m still a very good defender I just don’t listen to it.” On June 16, the fourth title of the Splash Brothers era was finally available, but the doubts have not gone away to this day.

The reasons for that are obvious. In addition to the by far worst defensive rating of his career (116.3; 21/22: 110.0), the throwing rates have also plummeted again compared to the weak previous season (38.8 percent FG, 37 percent 3FG). After the Knicks game, he had 201 throws for 201 points.

However, it would be utter nonsense to view Thompson’s achievements in a vacuum. The champion has stumbled into the season, lost the first eight away games and is clearly struggling to create a symbiosis between the old and young generations on the field. The former number two pick James Wiseman has now even landed in the G-League, valuable role players from the previous year are no longer there. The other youngsters besides Wiseman, namely Moses Moody and Jonathan Kuminga, are far from able to close this gap.

Klay Thompson praises leader Draymond Green

In addition, there are the atmospheric disturbances that erupted before the start of the season in Draymond Green’s hit against Poole in training and were subsequently cleared out with publicity. But it seems unlikely that everything will be the same internally. It’s no coincidence that there was a team meeting before the game against New York, in which various things that were burning on the players’ minds were discussed. According to JaMychal Green, “the elephants in the room were addressed” as “very constructive” as Thompson described it, highlighting Green’s role as a motivator and leader.

“He told me to be patient and to trust the team,” Thompson immediately saw a positive effect on his game. It was 15 points and 3 threes in the first quarter, followed by the in the third first dunk of the season, where he put Cam Reddish on the poster. The ball ran, there were 32 assists in the end, “the kind of basketball that made us the best team in the past decade”. Steve Kerr highlighted Thompson positively because he often found the extra pass that ultimately resulted in an open throw. “He was great from the start and was rewarded for it.”

Just a week earlier, Thompson had blurted it out repeatedly when he joined in with Charles Barkley’s criticism TNT was confronted, who even brought up a bank role for him (“He’s not the same anymore”). Thompson was hurt by the statements and said: “I feel like I deserve more respect for fighting through all the injuries. I helped this team win another championship but there are still people who don’t want to acknowledge that.”

His goal: to find his efficiency again and become the two-way player he once was. He is “on the right track”. The past games point in the right direction, in the PK after the Knicks game, Thompson could be seen again in one of his great passions – folding and throwing paper airplanes. “I make the best paper planes on the West Coast,” he said back in 2016, and Houston was busy folding again. This was last observed in April, when things were going much better in terms of sport – both for the Warriors and for Thompson. Perhaps that is also an indication that things are looking up from now on.

Golden State Warriors: The upcoming games

date time Home/Away Opponent
22nd of November 2 O ‘clock away Pelicans
November 24th 4 o’clock home clippers
November 26th 4 o’clock home jazz
November 27th 9:30 p.m away Timberwolves
30th of November 1:30 away mavericks

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