For the majority of the season, the story with Klay Thompson has been inflated numbers and a lack of overall consistency. Those issues in turn have contributed to the myriad of problems preventing the Golden State Warriors from being taken seriously as Western Conference contenders. In a different season, this Warriors team might have grabbed a four or even a three seed in the West, but in a historically loaded conference, the Dubs haven’t been able to climb higher than sixth for the most part. And although Thompson’s “struggles” haven’t quite approached Harrison Barnes‘ level of ineptitude, they’ve been significant enough to notice.
But what better time to start turning that around than right before the playoffs start? In the last 13 games he’s played, Thompson has reached double digit scoring in every one. He’s scored no less than 14 points during that streak and he’s averaging 21.5 points per game on 50 percent shooting from the field and 51 percent shooting from 3-point range. In those 13 games, he’s made 40 3s. REPEAT: In his last 13 games, Klay Thompson has made one 3-pointer for every day of Lent. I’m guessing the Reverend Mark Jackson didn’t ask him to give up his sweet stroke from downtown for Lent.
Take the Dubs’ latest win, a 28-point drubbing of the Utah Jazz. Thompson dropped 33 points on 11-of-20 shooting from the floor and 7-of-10 shooting from downtown, combining for 64 points with Stephen Curry. That’s the kind of efficiency from downtown that would make J.R. Smith jealous, if he had any sort of conscience with his efficiency whatsoever. Thompson finished a +28 for the game in just 31 minutes and the Dubs had basically finished the game off by the end of the third quarter. Sure, it was against the Jazz at home, but still:
— NBA.com/Stats (@nbastats) April 7, 2014
Why is this all significant? Because it wasn’t long ago that Thompson was seriously struggling with his efficiency. In December, Thompson shot 43 percent from the field and 37 percent from downtown. In January, his production dipped even further to 38 percent from the floor. The lack of confidence from not seeing the ball go in the hole carried over into February, when Thompson attempted nearly three fewer shots per game from January and saw his scoring drop from 17.1 points per game to 14.7 on 43 percent shooting. In March and April, Thompson’s shooting around 50 percent from the floor and better than 50 percent from downtown.
The Warriors have gone 12-6 during that stretch. Of those six losses, one saw Thompson put up 26 points. But another came in a game where he didn’t even play and the other four were among his lowest scoring games of the last two months. It’s obvious that any NBA team is at its best when its role player versions of Klay Thompson are knocking down shots and putting up points. For such a one-dimensional player like Thompson, who doesn’t contribute in many other columns on the stat sheet, knocking down shots is how he and the Dubs make their living.
But the Warriors are a team starved for contributions on offense, especially whenever Curry sits down. Curry, Thompson and David Lee are the only Warriors players to average more than 9.3 points per game, which is what Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes (the next two highest scoring players) put up on a nightly basis. That means for the Dubs to shock the world for the second straight year and have any sort of success in the playoffs, Thompson can’t afford to have many off nights. If his last few weeks are any indication, Thompson is finally fully aware of that fact.