How Klay Thompson Will Win the NBA's Most Improved Player Award

James Pearson@JKPIIICorrespondent IOctober 18, 2012

October 15, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) drives to the basket during the second half against the Denver Nuggets  at the Pepsi Center.  The Nuggets won 104-98.  Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE
Chris Humphreys-US PRESSWIRE

The Golden State Warriors are expecting a lot from Klay Thompson

In return, simply by giving Thompson more playing time with consistent touches, the NBA's Most Improved Player Award is his to lose.

Actually, Thompson has an unfair advantage to win this award.

Overall last season, Thompson averaged 12.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 0.7 steals per game while hitting 1.7 treys on 44 percent shooting from the field. Modest numbers, but when you consider he never even saw more than 26 minutes of action in any one game before March 13th, his numbers are misleading.

After March 13th, or coincidentally after Monta Ellis was traded, Thompson boasted per game averages of 18.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.1 steals. He also hit 2.1 three-pointers per game on 44 percent shooting from the field.

The only thing that stopped Thompson from winning the Most Improved Player Award last season was the NBA doesn't count season splits.

If Thompson saw the floor as much as he did after Ellis departed, or had been a starter from day one, the Rookie of the Year Award might have been his. His numbers were obviously better with more playing time, but the key stat in his post-Ellis numbers is the 44 percent shooting.

Even with the increase in his volume of shots, Thompson's percentage stayed the same.

Now with a full year under his belt, and with the talent that is surrounding him to create more open looks, is his shooting percentage expected to go anywhere but up?



Not only that, in an article by Marcus Thompson on about the improvement of Thompson, Brandon Rush stated:

"He (Thompson) is attacking the rim a lot more now. "He's not just relying on his jumper. He's so tough to guard. You never know what he's going to do."

He is attacking the rim now?

Thompson's percentage should improve by being more comfortable in the league and having more talent around him. Now, if he were taking it to the rim more, with his stroke, can't he come close to shooting 50 percent from the field?

I wouldn't bet against it.

His defensive game is suspect, which could hurt his chance at winning the Most Improved Player award, but that's what Andrew Bogut is for. The Warriors are going to do their best to disguise their defensive liabilities, including Thompson. 

The only other thing hurting his chances is the high expectations surrounding him after his stellar late-season play.

In that same article, when asked if he felt any pressure entering his second season, Thompson stated:

"Nope. I'm confident. I know I'm a big piece of this team now. That gives me confidence."


Sounds like he will be able to deal with those lofty expectations just fine.

It's important he knows that he is a big part of this Warriors team now. With Bogut, David Lee and Stephen Curry among others, shots are not going to be easy to come by. As long as Thompson still gets the number of touches he needs to put up similar numbers to his post-Ellis lines, no other player in the NBA is going to stand in his way of setting a new standard for improvement. 

Look how fast he has developed. He is really on a fast track to stardom.

It only took him half a season for management to make him a full-time starter at shooting guard, and despite averaging only 24 minutes a game, he was named to the NBA All-Rookie Team. 

All it took was 66 NBA games for Thompson to be invited to the U.S. Select team, and while there, he not only wowed the NBA stars, but also gained valuable experience that should carry over into this season.

The sky is the limit for Thompson. With his pedigree, all it's going to take is the right amount of playing time and he will be taking home the Most Improved Player Award.