During the 2012-13 NBA season, Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson played a vital role on a Warriors team that made an impressive run to the Western Conference Semifinals. Already respected as a sharpshooter, Thompson made big strides from his rookie season, especially on the defensive end of the floor, where he became the Warriors primary wing defender.
Whether it was spotting up at the 3-point line, shooting off the dribble, or finishing at the rim, Thompson was a nightmare for defenses last year, especially with teams also having to account for Stephen Curry. Thompson shot 40.1 percent on 3-pointers during the 2012-13 season and averaged 16.6 points per game, while also taking on a larger role defensively.
Warriors head coach Mark Jackson labeled Curry and Thompson, “the greatest shooting backcourt in the history of the game,” last season. Although it might be premature to make such declarations, Thompson is just 23 years old, and Curry is only 25, so the “Splash Brothers” will continue to impose difficulties on NBA teams for years to come.
With highly revered perimeter defender Andre Iguodala signing with the Warriors during the offseason, Thompson will no longer have to expend as much energy on defense this year. In turn, his numbers offensively will likely improve, and he will need to continue to be a threat on offense if Golden State is going to be a legitimate contender in the Western Conference.
Where Thompson needs to improve, however, is in creating scoring opportunities for his teammates. He only averaged 2.2 assists per game during his sophomore season. Although he is dangerous from long distance, he often forced shots up instead of looking for the open man. If he can improve his passing game, defenders will need to take his versatility into consideration when guarding him. That would make him more dangerous on offense, instead of being primarily known as a knockdown shooter.
Klay Thompson’s shotchart from last season:
As you can see, Thompson was very dangerous from long-distance during the 2012-13 season, as he finished third in the NBA by making 211 3-pointers.
If there was one place where his offensive efficiency could improve, it would be in the paint. Last year, he often struggled converting makeable layups and those wasted scoring chances negatively impacted the Warriors offensively. Thompson can certainly get good looks around the basket, but it will be interesting to see whether he can finish those scoring opportunities more consistently this season.
On a Warriors team that many people expect to be one of the premier teams in the NBA, Thompson will have a good chance to make a name for himself during the 2013-14 season. If he can accept his role offensively, whether it is in the starting lineup, or as a reserve, and continue to improve on the defensive end of the floor, Thompson’s development will be key for the success of this team.