Golden State Warriors: Why Klay Thompson Is an Integral Part of Their Future

Nikhil DilipCorrespondent IIIJuly 15, 2011

Golden State Warriors: Why Klay Thompson Is an Integral Part of Their Future

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    Last season ended as it always does for the Warriors: missing the playoffs but still hoping for next year and the promises that this year's lottery selection will bring.

    Klay Thompson may not be able to make the immediate impact that Stephen Curry made during the 2009-10 campaign, but there's no question that he'll help the Warriors much more than Ekpe Udoh did last year.

    Their third coach in three years, Mark Jackson, promised that Golden State would reach the playoffs next season, but after winning 36 games, its future is cloudy at best.

    Unfortunately, so is the NBA's. A lost season, due to a lockout, would be detrimental to the growth of the Warriors. Because at this point, all the team needs is for David Lee, Monta Ellis, Dorell Wright, Curry, and Thompson to practice being on the floor at the same time.

    While this probably isn't Golden State's starting five, these players will be seeing significant court time together (unless Ellis gets traded).

    Thompson has the ability to start on many teams in the league and be a solid member of the rotation on all of them.

    He knows his role on offense. Shoot. Shoot. Shoot. And maybe attack the basket a little bit. On the other half of the court, he can defend both wing positions, and his long arms allow him to contest shots easily.

    Like Curry, Thompson already knows a little bit about the NBA life. His dad, Mychal Thompson, was drafted No. 1 overall by the Blazers back in 1978, before playing with the Spurs and winning three championships with the Lakers

    If Thompson can give Golden State another scoring threat on the perimeter and/or instant offense off the bench, he may be able to help the Warriors get over the hump and into the playoffs.

    Here's why he can impact the team immediately and put them in the right direction.

He's a Pure Shooter

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    Thompson is arguably the best shooter in the draft this year, and Golden State nailed a great player with the 11th pick. Rather than drafting for need, they found the best player available this year.

    He shot nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc for Washington State last year and will surely be able to adjust to the NBA's three-point range. Thompson will play a role similar to Dorell Wright and will make teams pay for double-teaming Monta Ellis (if he's still on the team) or Stephen Curry on the drive.

    His style reminds scouts of Reggie Miller, and he will surely thrive in a catch-and-shoot role.

Great Substitute for Monta Ellis

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    Ellis played the most minutes of any player in the league this season, and with Thompson coming off the bench, Monta can finally rest.

    Ellis is entering the prime of his career, and the upcoming season (whenever it begins) will be his seventh. Reducing his minutes will reduce any potential wear and tear that will come as a result.

    If (or rather when) Ellis is traded, Thompson can start and produce for the Warriors. A team with Curry at the helm, Thompson and Wright on the wings and Lee in the post is lethal. They just may fulfill Mark Jackson's prophecies that they will make the playoffs next season.

Fits Well into Golden State's Up-and-Down Tempo

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    Like Curry, Thompson is a born shooter with the ability to knock down threes, in addition to pulling up from midrange. He can run the floor and shoot lights out.

    Last year, he topped 20 points 21 times and 30 points five times, and  he has the capability of scoring at a similar rate in Golden State.

    Coach Jackson can also run the offense through him due to this unselfish nature (averaged nearly four assists last year) and ball handling skills (1.1 assist-to-turnover ratio).

He Can Actually Play Defense

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    Unlike Don Nelson and Keith Smart, Mark Jackson preaches defense. At 6'6", Thompson is three inches taller than Ellis and can guard both shooting guards and small forwards.

    He nearly doubled his steals from his freshman to his junior year, averaging nearly 1.6 in his final year. With almost a block and five rebounds per game, Thompson is a clear upgrade over Ellis, who can barely contest shots of most wing players.

    For the first time since Jason Richardson, the Warriors have a shooting guard who can both shoot the ball and defend well.