A Look at Klay Thompson’s Production

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In Klay Thompson’s first 11 games back we’ve seen some good, some bad, and a lot of somewhere in between. After a break out night against Sacramento, Thompson is now shooting 42.9% from the field and 37.8% from distance on the season. Thompson hasn’t quite played up to his typical standards so far and he’s even been visibly frustrated with himself on the court at times, but he’s doing just fine.

It’s less about what he’s doing on the court right now and more about how he’s doing it. And so far, his athleticism appears to be there – he’s moving just fine both north and south, and east to west, and overall he just looks comfortable out there. He’s not noticeably slower than he was pre-injury, or at least not to the point where it’s any sort of problem, and on defense in particular he doesn’t just seem like he still belongs but he’s still showing the ability to be effective at a high level.

Opponents are shooting just 42.9% from the field against Thompson which is as good or better than some of the league’s premier defenders such as Draymond Green, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Marcus Smart, just to name a few. And not to mention, he’s been tasked with defending one of the other team’s best scorers on a lot of nights.

The Warriors’ defense is actually slightly worse with Thompson on the floor vs off but with the sample size that we’re dealing with, some of his numbers are going to fluctuate more than normal. For context, the Warriors were slightly better defensively with him on the floor before last nights contest against the Sacramento Kings. Regardless, his advanced statistics are pretty encouraging.

A Dive Into His “Struggles”

You may be wondering why I have struggles in quotations above, but that’s because I don’t really see this start as a struggle for Thompson. Going strictly by the numbers sure he may be struggling a little bit, but you also have to acknowledge the fact that he last played in an NBA game in June of 2019 before returning a little less than a month ago. For you older fans reading this, how did Chris Webber look when he came back from his knee injury? How about Elton Brand after his achilles tear? For those more my age, what happened to Brandon Jennings after tearing his achilles? How was John Wall last season after returning from his achilles injury? Wesley Matthews?

Players have returned from major achilles and knee injuries before and went on to still have fairly productive careers, as I illustrated back in September, but right out of the gate a lot of these guys “struggle” in their returns. Webber’s shooting percentage was down nearly 5% from his previous season in his return, Elton Brand’s was down about 8%, John Wall’s was down 4%, Wes Matthews was down 6%, and Brandon Jennings’ was down a little over 3%. Coming back from major injuries is no easy task.

The amount of reps you miss over the course of time while rehabbing major injuries is incalculable, especially for a guy who missed the entirety of two seasons with two separate rehabs. Right now, Thompson’s overall shooting percentage is down 3.8% from his previous season in 2018-19 but I do expect that he’ll push closer to the 46.7% he shot in 2019 rather than hover around 40% all season, as he’s done thus far.

Shooting is something that can be perfected over time. Klay Thompson is one of the guys that has perfected that craft and the more reps he gets the more likely he is to shoot the ball efficiently, that I am confident of.

Thompson didn’t forget how to shoot the ball over the course of the last two years but he sure as heck wasn’t able to go through his normal shooting routine everyday over the course of those two years. Thompson and Warriors fans just need to be patient with his shooting.

Another thing about Thompson’s shot is that he’s taking good looks for the most part. He’s forced some bad shots here and there but that’s just life as a shooter – inevitably you’re going to take some questionable shots, especially when you’re the caliber of shooter that Thompson is because he can hit tough, contested shots. With the shots that he’s getting he’s going to see the ball start falling through the hoop more, it’s just a matter of time.

His Offense is Coming Around

Over Thompson’s last five games, he’s averaging 18.2 points, 4.4 assists, and 3.6 rebounds on 50% shooting overall and 46.1% from distance. The Klay Thompson that we all grew to know and love is starting find his rhythm again. Coming into last night’s matchup with Sacramento, Thompson was shooting just over 40% from the floor and just under 33% from distance but as usual Sacramento was a “get right” game for Thompson.

The high shooting percentages and assists are what sticks out the most. Thompson has never really been considered a shot creator for others but he seems to be putting the ball on the floor a lot more so far early in the season than he used to. It’s encouraging to see him effect the game in that way even if a lot of those assists just come within the Warriors offense.

He’s not going to continue to be this lights out going forward, but don’t let a slow start to the season let make you question whether or not Thompson can still be highly effective, because he can and he’s going to prove that as the season continues.

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