Klay Thompson turned a lot of heads last season after finishing the year strong and earning himself a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team. Now he is one of the cornerstones of the Golden State Warriors, who are looking to finally break out of their rebuilding process and make a run at the playoffs.
With former starting shooting guard Monta Ellis getting shipped out of town in exchange for new starting center Andrew Bogut, Thompson now has room to grow in the backcourt with fellow guard Stephen Curry.
While Curry has already shown his potential to be the star for Golden State, Thompson may be looking to take some of that spotlight after a solid rookie campaign. Let's take a look at seven reasons why Klay Thompson could become the next star for the Warriors.
The Warriors are in the process of assembling quite the team with the additions of Andrew Bogut and whomever they select in the upcoming draft.
This would add to their current core of Steph Curry, David Lee and Klay Thompson.
However, part of the Warriors struggles in recent seasons has been their inability to keep that core on the court together for long stretches of the season. Bogut was hampered by injuries during his tenure with the Milwaukee Bucks and will have to come back from those after not playing a single game for the Warriors following his trade last season.
Curry had injuries of his own last season, and his small frame isn't doing him any favors in keeping him healthy against bigger and stronger opposition.
With all of these question marks, Thompson may end up being the best player on the floor for the Warriors on any given night and could become the go-to option in critical situations.
How he reacts to being the top guy on an NBA team will determine how quickly he transitions from promising young prospect to budding star.
Even without any injuries to other top players in the starting lineup, Thompson will still be seeing significant minutes.
This is mainly because the Warriors lack solid depth behind Thompson at either the shooting guard or the small forward position.
As with the scenario I proposed in the last slide, heavy minutes for Thompson could significantly boost his game.
Even more beneficial will be having healthy teammates on the court alongside him. He will not only develop chemistry with the other top players on the Warriors, but he will also learn from their veteran experience.
Overall, Thompson will benefit from seeing a lot of minutes on the court as a starter, as opposed to playing sparingly off the bench.
One of the best parts for the Warriors is knowing that they have budding star that is just 22 years old.
At such a young age, Thompson has plenty of time to refine his game and learn what he needs to do to succeed in the long term.
Some players may not hit their stride immediately out of college; for some it takes a few seasons to get acclimated to the speed and competition of the NBA. However, Thompson proved with his play last season that he may be ready to break out as early as next year.
If Thompson does progress even further in his sophomore season, the fact that he is so young could mean that he will become a true franchise player for Golden State.
By the time they move to San Francisco in 2017, the Warriors may have to continue to build their team not just around Curry but Thompson, as well.
One important aspect to a player's success in becoming a star is his overall confidence.
The Warriors have been a losing team for the past few years and didn't do so well as a team in Thompson's first season.
However, the team has been taking the right steps recently to get better and could continue to do so through the draft this year. With a healthy roster, this Golden State squad could perform very well this upcoming season.
Winning games could be a great boost for Thompson and his confidence, leading to more inspired play. With his team playing well, Thompson will also want to maintain his good play and help his teammates any way that he can—two marks of a true NBA star.
Thompson also showed last season that he is plenty confident in his own abilities and shooting touch.
Confidence is something that makes the difference for shooters transitioning from the college game to the NBA. One example of a great shooter hurt by waning confidence is Jimmer Fredette, who endured a mediocre rookie campaign last season for the Sacramento Kings.
Thompson's case is just the opposite, however, and he showed he can play with the pros last season.
The Warriors have assembled a good core of players for the future and could continue to bolster their roster in free agency and through the draft, as well.
This is great news for Thompson, who will have options with David Lee and Andrew Bogut in the post and sharp-shooting backcourt mate Stephen Curry roaming the perimeter.
Being surrounded with great players is bound to rub off on Thompson, who could also find new ways to improve himself on the court and take the next step in his career.
By surrounding him with veterans to guide him and young talent with which he can relate, the Warriors are helping to expedite Thompson's development.
Thompson is very versatile, but his best offensive skill is still his three-point shooting ability.
Thompson has a great shooting touch from behind the arc, and if he continues to play at a high level, he could begin to draw comparisons to some of the greatest outside shooters of all time, such as Ray Allen and Reggie Miller.
While Thompson still has quite a ways to go to rival those legends, he has definitely shown some promise of developing into a great shooter.
His long-range shooting is something that he will most likely continue to develop as an NBA player. If he continues to get more proficient, Thompson may ride his three-point shooting to future stardom.
Besides shooting, Thompson has a good set of offensive skills that could make him a very dangerous scorer in the league.
If you look at most of the stars in the NBA, they are almost all versatile and proficient scorers. This is an area in which Thompson showed a lot of potential last year.
As noted earlier, Thompson has terrific range to go with an ability to attack the basket. While he still needs to work on finishing at the rim, he will benefit from drawing contact, as he is also an excellent free-throw shooter (87 percent).
His good size helps him get shots off over long defenders, while allowing him to drive past smaller players for attempts nearer the basket.
Thompson's versatility is definitely an advantage that could propel him to a higher tier of NBA players.