When Paul George went down with a broken leg in Team USA’s August 1st scrimmage game, the NBA lost their best up-and-coming superstar. Now that the dust has settled on the injury, there are quite a few analysts looking around to figure out what players are going to take the next step and become the “next big thing” in the NBA. Could Golden State Warriors’ shooting guard Klay Thompson step up and become one of those players?
Thompson ended up playing in 18.4 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game, while shooting 41.7 percent from behind the three-point arc. He has formed one of the deadliest guard duos alongside of Stephen Curry in the NBA, and they are also two of the most accurate three-point shooters in the game. There has been some question as to how good Thompson would be without Curry taking up the majority of the gameplanning from opponents, but he is still a great talent.
So the question then becomes, is he capable of becoming one of the next rising stars in the NBA?
He’s heading into his fourth NBA season, and that will help him out with more maturity and yet another offseason to focus on his game and figure out what improvements need to be made. His offense had already been proven coming into last season, but he took major leaps forward in nearly every other aspect of his game. The biggest area of improvement for him was his ability to defend the ball, and he was one of the more pesky perimeter defenders.
At 6’7″ and 205 pounds, he is able to match up with players like James Harden, Kobe Bryant, Russell Westbrook, and any other athletic guard that an opponent could throw at him. He is extremely quick on his feet, and he has quick hands and lengthy arms that allow him to be a threat in the passing lanes. Defense is one of the things that Thompson takes major pride in, and that pride is going to be what fuels him to take another step defensively this offseason.
Offensively, he has been one of the NBA’s purest shooters and has been a growing force as an offensive threat all around the board. He has solid ball-handling, and he also has improved his strength to finish through contact at the rim. That is likely one of the major areas that he has been working on this offseason, and he is expected to come back and be a much improved offensive threat.
As you can see from his shooting chart, he was extremely dangerous anywhere around the three-point arc and mid-range. He had some issues once he got to the rim, but he wasn’t too inconsistent in that area either. That being said, the Warriors are going to ask him to do a lot more getting to the rim this season in order for him to take some pressure off of Curry and the rest of the Warriors’ offense.
There aren’t too many ways that Thompson needs to make major improvements, but it is all about taking the next step towards the elite level now. He has a very good all-around game that is fairly well polished, but there are areas that he can fine tune. To answer the question that was asked about whether or not Thompson can take the next step and be one of the up-and-coming stars of the league, yes he can.
Golden State has the perfect system for him to thrive in, and Steve Kerr is going to be a good change of pace for him. One of the big issues that the Warriors had with former head coach Mark Jackson, was that he was giving Curry the green light too often. Now, Thompson will likely become a bigger part of the offense and it will be a much more balanced offense rather than a run-and-gun unorganized system.
Don’t be surprised to see Thompson’s numbers see a major improvement, and him become an even bigger threat offensively. The NBA has already taken notice of what he is capable of, but he hasn’t taken the leap to being one of the up-and-coming potential superstars just yet. That being said, his game has plenty of potential and he will take the next step this season to prove that he has potential to be a number one scoring threat.
Evan Massey is a Staff Writer for HoopsHabit.com.