Klay Thompson has been everything that the Golden State Warriors could have asked for.
He came into the league primarily known as a shooter, but in just two short seasons, he has developed a solid all-around game and turned himself into a complete player.
His stroke is still his trademark, and he can get his shot off as quickly as anyone in the league. Alongside Stephen Curry, in just their first full 82-game season together, they have already earned the name Splash Brothers. They have put their names in the argument as the greatest shooting backcourt of all time.
Thompson's shooting ability led him to joining the All-Rookie first team and earning an invitation to the 2012 USA men's select team. The latter helped because the work he put in over the summer helped as he improved every facet of his game.
His numbers backed up his work. They all went up except for his percentages. This can be expected when anyone averages 11 more minutes attempting four more shots per game.
But it's not just in his numbers.
His defense improved dramatically. So much so that after Brandon Rush went down for the year, Thompson became the Warriors' best perimeter defender.
You can argue that when Andrew Bogut was out due to injuries, Thompson was the best defender on the team.
He was routinely called upon to defend their opponents' best offensive player on a nightly basis. His pick-and-roll defense really stood out. In an article by Chris Palmer of ESPN.com, he points out:
Among all players with at least 200 possessions guarding the pick-and-roll ball handler, Thompson gave up the fewest points per possession, with 0.686. By comparison, All-Defensive team members Tony Allen held pick-and-roll ball handlers to 0.649 points per possession and George to 0.783.
Thompson has put his name among the best defenders in the league. This is the same guy who hit eight of nine three-pointers for 34 points to go with 14 rebounds in Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs.
Oh yea, he rebounds now too.
After posting 2.4 rebounds a game in his rookie year, he improved that number to 3.7 this year. It helped lead to the Warriors in becoming the third-leading rebounding team in the NBA with 45 per game. Sure, having Bogut and David Lee helped, but Thompson has the ability to develop into a terrific rebounding guard. His 14-rebound game attests to it.
Speaking of getting to the rim, Thompson can do that too.
That is something he should be doing more of. Especially if—and it hurts to think about—Jarrett Jack doesn't re-sign. Even if he does come back, Thompson should be attacking the rim more often. It will open his perimeter game up, and being an 85 percent career free-throw shooter, creating contact is a great way to raise his average.
The problem is he has only gone to the line an average of 1.7 times per game so far in his career, less than one shooting foul per game. Going forward, you would like to see Thompson get more aggressive while avoiding plays like this.
Ethan Strauss @SherwoodStrauss
This is the ultimate terrible Klay Thompson possession. Just so typical of Bad Klay http://t.co/bpdsK0zt9R5/15/2013, 3:15:07 PM
There is good aggressive play, and there is bad aggressive play.
That was a bad aggressive play.
He also tends to disappear at times.
After making 11 of 14 threes in the first two games in the second round of the postseason, Thompson made just two more on six attempts in the remaining four games.
How is that possible?
Thompson has the tools to develop into one of the top shooting guards in the league. He just needs to become more consistent and aggressive.
In Game 5 against the Spurs, Thompson scored the first two points of the game. Good start, but the rest of the final 47 minutes he managed to get just two more points. That is unacceptable.
You can't expect him to make five-plus threes a night, but someone with his talent should not be going 6-of-20 for 14 points in two of the biggest games in Golden State history.
Thompson's ceiling is on an All-Star level. He has the complete package and has no limitations on the basketball court. As he matures as an NBA player and person, he will start taking better shots, attacking more and become the consistent player we all know he can be.
If he continues the growth that he has shown thus far, a long successful career with the Warriors is ahead of him. That is as long as they can afford him. When it is all said and done, his career should include multiple All-Star appearances and three-point titles. It may even include an All-NBA defensive team member and hopefully a championship ring.
Wouldn't that be nice?
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