Apr 20, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) during the first half of game one of the first round of the 2013 NBA Playoffs against the Denver Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 97-95. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Golden State Warriors: Why Klay Thompson Will Be Key

Guard play has always been the key for the Golden State Warriors. With Stephen Curry struggling, Klay Thompson stepped up to kept the Warriors afloat in a back and forth Game 1. But, is this a trend they can rely on and even more so now that David Lee is down for the duration of the playoffs with a torn hip flexor?  The recent data says…yes.

Granted it is a small sample size, but Thompson has been lights out for the most part recently. It is partially due to his backcourt mate also trending upward and gaining lots more defensive attention, but Thompson has capitalized on his opportunities.  The biggest change in his production has been the willingness to attack smaller defenders in the mid-post area, something that was non-existent much of the regular season.

Looking at the shot chart for the season, Thompson’s chart seems to get better as you move out as perimeter shooting is definitely a strength. But they key is the right mid-post and mid-range area. He shot a mundane 33 percent from this area, which is pretty easy to spot–the only red areas in the chart.

But, in looking from charts from the five out of the last six regular season games and Game 1 versus the Nuggets, you begin to see this “problem” area becoming a strength.  The short charts from these six games are not labeled for a reason, so you can see the trend of attacking the midrange area.

Source: Espn.com

These six games down the stretch show a concerted effort by Golden State to get Thompson involved in the mid-post area, usually on the right side.

The 1-2 pick and roll with Curry seems to be more of  a pick your poison proposition for teams. If you switch, you leave Thompson with a mismatch in the post with a four to five inch height advantage. Don’t switch and Curry is lining up an uncontested three. If Curry can find his stroke in Game 2, look for either Andre Iguodala or Corey Brewer to switch onto him, leaving Lawson or Andre Miller against Thompson in the post area. In either case, Thompson has at least a four advantage to shoot over the top, and neither guy is really known for their defense.

With Lee out, expect some unconventional lineups and gimmick plays to take advantage of mismatches. Expect pushing the tempo (think 1980s Denver Nuggets versus Run TMC), shooting lots of threes, and lots more attempts for Thompson (think the biggest green light you’ve ever seen). But, in the half court, exploiting Thompson’s size and newly found shooting touch from the post area may be the new bread and butter for a team looking for new ways to eat at the big boy table.

Tags: Denver Nuggets Golden State Warriors Klay Thompson NBA Playoffs

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