A few seasons ago, Martin Soaries and I glossed over the decline of the NBA’s shooting guard. Kobe had ruptured his achilles, and Dwyane Wade looked to be on his last legs.
Fast forward to the present, and boy was that conversation premature. The NBA is now littered with guys in both conferences who show flashes of brilliant off-guard play on both ends of the floor. Take a look at James Harden, an absolute offensive juggernaut, or even a Jimmy Butler and C.J. McCollum. DeMar DeRozan and Bradley Beal are two other 2-Guards who figure to earn huge pay raises this summer. Even the wily old vet, Dwyane Wade, looks every bit of his former self. The names I just mentioned, are a few of the leading candidates in this shooting guard resurgence — one name however, stands tall above the rest.
Klay Thompson, in my humblest of opinions, is the best shooting guard in the Association. End of discussion. What he brings to the table, both offensively and defensively, is unrivaled. It certainly cannot hurt when you’re playing in the same backcourt as the league MVP, but these 2016 NBA playoffs have shown just how far the sharpshooting wing from Washington State has truly come. Sure his absurd outburst against Sacramento a year ago could serve as his coming out party, but Klay has stepped his game up another level this year.
To think that the Golden State Warriors were prepared to part ways with Thompson in hopes of landing Kevin Love prior to the 2014-15 season, the gamble on Thompson has paid dividends as the Warriors won the title last year, only to usurp that success with a historical 73-9 record this year.
Take a deeper look at his performances while Steph has been sidelined during the playoffs. Klay outshined James Harden, who happens to be his closest competitor in the best shooting guard convo, in the first round. So far in round 2, he’s stifled Damian Lillard into some poor/tough shooting exhibitions. Not only can Klay serve as the no. 1 option on offense, he’s more than capable of shutting down or containing the opposing alpha dog. When Klay is on, he gives the Warriors added comfort and increased breathing room. Not only do they possess the best shooter in the game, they also have the second best shooter on deck. Simply absurd. More than his ability to flat out shoot the rock, Klay can put the ball on the floor and create for himself and others as well. Each season he’s shown growth, and doesn’t not look as if he’ll be stopping anytime soon.
How can we ever forget his 37-point (NBA-record for points in any quarter) 3rd quarter outburst against the Sacramento Kings during the 2014-15 season. Watching it live I honestly couldn’t believe my eyes. Performances like this one only cement his status as the premier shooting guard of this generation.