Klay Thompson is a premier shooter in this league.
That’s a no-brainer. The other half of the Splash Brothers once again finished second in the league in three-pointers made in the regular season. Klay Thompson’s scoring barrages have shown us how proficient he is from deep. We’ve seen him score 60 points in 29 minutes of playing time, we’ve seen Klay go for 37 points in one quarter, and we’ve seen him hit 11 threes in a pivotal Game 6 to stave off elimination.
Whatever shooting accomplishments there are, Klay has come close to matching them already.
This postseason, however, things seem to be very different for Klay Thompson. He has been cold, to say the least. In this playoff run, Klay Thompson has averaged 13.8 points a game on 36.6% shooting and 33.8% from deep. Definitely below his standards considering the fact he shot 46.8% and 41.4% from deep during the regular season.
Klay Thompson is not just a shooter, nor is he only known as one.
Despite the Splash Brother struggling to make his mark offensively, he has still made a big difference for the Golden State Warriors. His reputation for being an elite defender has been known throughout the league and these playoffs are no exception.
What Klay has missed from the offensive end, he has made up on the other side of the ball. Defense. Klay, next to Iguodala, might be Golden State’s best perimeter defender. The job he has done throughout Golden State’s dominant playoff run is terrific, as dominant as his shooting when locked in.
Once Game 1 of the 2017 Finals concluded, Klay scored a measly 6 points on a 3-16 shooting night.
Offensively, he was terrible. He missed shot after shot, ones that he can usually make in his sleep. However, he still might have been Golden State’s unsung hero in their rout of the Cavaliers. As he has done all playoffs, what he lacked in offense, he made up for in defense.
Klay was elite on defense in their Game 1 win. To put it in context, Cavaliers players were 1-12 FG when Klay Thompson was their primary defender. Even against someone bigger than him like Kevin Love, Klay held his own and forced bad shots for the Cavaliers.
Klay’s defense allows the Warriors to be even more versatile, as it gives the Warriors the opportunity to be able to switch more often, which is important in stopping a team like the Cavaliers.
Klay was, of course, tasked to defend Kyrie Irving for most of the game. Irving has been on fire for most of the playoffs, at times looking so unguardable no matter who was in front of him. Kyrie was suddenly missing shots he normally made, courtesy of Klay Thompson.
His defense wasn’t his only strong suit during Game 1, his mere presence and passing helped the Warriors tremendously as well.
Klay’s three-point shooting was one of the only few things that stood out from his game. Since then, however, Klay has greatly improved his passing, a skill so essential in an offense like Golden State’s. Klay finished Game 1 of the Finals with a modest 4 assists, but most of his passes were simple, yet extremely effective.
As is the case for his fellow Splash Brother, Steph, Klay’s mere presence as a three-point shooting threat makes a big difference by itself. Cleveland seems to make a concerted effort to limit Golden State’s perimeter shooting, which means closing out to Curry and Klay as their top priority. Even if Klay is shooting terribly these playoffs, the fact that he can catch fire at any given time keeps the Cavs modest.
Take a look at this particular sequence at the 3:41 mark of the video. Cleveland probably knows that Klay has been struggling shooting the ball during this postseason, however, LeBron still closes out on him. Klay is then able to find KD crosscourt for the three-point bucket. Although Klay has been cold, his prowess from outside is still respected, thus LeBron and the Cavs are still closing out.
Video via FreeDawkins
Klay Thompson isn’t shooting well, but that doesn’t render him useless.
Sure, the shot may not be falling for him at the moment, but he is still leaving his prints on the ball. That’s what makes Klay’s performance amazing. Yes, 3 out of 16 is a bad shooting game, but 1 out of 12 on defense is just as great. Klay doesn’t mind stats, as long as it results in a championship.
Klay Thompson on reduced scoring in playoffs, "not a big deal. If I score 6 pts/gm & it gets us a championship, I'll do that every yr."
— John Dickinson (@JDJohnDickinson) June 2, 2017
Plus, it’s only a matter of time before he actually catches fire. If he does, well this series might be over sooner than expected.
*Featured photo credits go to Dan Honda/Bay Area News Group*