He isn’t the biggest star or the best overall player on this list, but Klay Thompson was probably the best fit for the Lakers’ current foundation that is being built around LeBron and Davis.
The book on LeBron has always been that you want to surround him with shooters, and it certainly would also help Davis’ game to have a deadly shooter stretching the defense.
Thompson just happens to be arguably the best shooter in the world.
An invaluable part of the Warriors’ three championships squads in 2015, 2017 and 2018, Thompson averaged 21.5 points per game last season and hit 40.2 percent of his 3-pointers. That percentage would be amazing for most NBA players, but for Thompson, it was actually his lowest accuracy rate since 2012-13.
Thompson’s career highlights include a 60-point game, a 37-point quarter (an NBA record), and one game in which he hit 14 3-pointers (another record). He is known to go on these scoring explosions in the blink of an eye, famously not needing to dribble more than a couple of times and getting his points on catch-and-shoot opportunities thanks to dazzling movement without the ball and a quick shot release.
Thompson is also one of the best defenders in the league. He was voted to the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team this season, the first All-Defensive honor he’d received in his career but one that many felt was long overdue.
An all-time great shooter who can defend opposing teams’ top perimeter scorers would’ve been perfect for the Lakers.
The fact that Klay Thompson’s father, Mychal, used to play for the Lakers during the “Showtime” era just seemed like extra reason to believe this pairing could happen.
The only downside was that Klay suffered a torn ACL during Game 6 of the NBA Finals and will miss most of next season. But that is no longer a career-altering injury on par with, say, a ruptured Achilles, and so it didn’t impede Thompson’s free agency offers.
On Sunday, Thompson reportedly agreed to stay where he’s been successful, and re-sign with the Warriors on a five-year max deal.
The Lakers are trying to put together a roster that can take down the Golden State team that has dominated the Western Conference for five years.
Adding Kawhi Leonard to a core that includes LeBron James and Anthony Davis would definitely make the Lakers the new big dogs in the West, but taking the Warriors’ X-factor from them would’ve been just as monumental in reshaping the power structure of the league.