Prior to the 2011 NBA Draft, scouts were raving solely about Klay Thompson’s sharpshooting.
He was deemed to be a player similar to Marco Belineli, a pure shooter who the Golden State Warriors drafted years ago. Some scouts acknowledged his incredible spot-up shooting but saw him as nothing more than just a shooter. They viewed him as one-dimensional and very limited on the defensive end.
Fast forward to 2014. Thompson is well-regarded as a player, and spectators know that he is more than just a shooter.
It was expected to see Thompson light it up beyond the arc. As his career in the NBA progresses, his scoring versatility will evolve with the gained experience. He was sub par when it came to attacking the basket and finishing in the paint. Part of it is due to the lack of ball handling skill and aggression.
During Thompson’s rookie season, he put up 167 shots in the paint and converted just 90 of them for buckets. Comparing those numbers to this past season, Thompson nearly doubled his attempts in the paint with 303 while making 161 of them. The increase in attempts in the paint is a testament to Thompson’s growing aggression on the offensive end.
With more buckets in the paint, there is a positive correlation that comes with his average in points. In each of his three seasons so far, Thompson’s scoring average has gradually increased each season. During his rookie campaign, he averaged 12.5 points per game. His scoring average has skyrocketed 18.4 points per game in just two seasons. It is possible to see him hit an average of 20-plus points in the upcoming season.
Along with his growing aggression on the offensive end, another huge improvement to Thompson’s game is his defense. At the beginning of his career, former head coach Mark Jackson noted that, “When we first got him, he was not a defender,” and it was a work in progress. He frequently bit on head fakes and was caught reaching in on players. Now, he has significantly improved on the defensive side of the ball, and spectators view him as an elite defender who can guard multiple positions.
Coming into the league, Thompson was questioned on his athleticism. He did not have the quickest feet nor was he the fastest guy on court. Not much has changed from his rookie season as far as his athleticism goes, but Thompson is still able to stay in front of his assignment, no matter how quick the guy is:
What makes Thompson so good on defense is his growing IQ. He moves into the correct position on defense, and he knows how to play the angles when it comes to pick-and-roll situations. It is rare to see him fall asleep on the defensive end. He has grown to become one of the top shooting guards when it comes to playing both sides of the ball.
With just three years under his belt, Thompson is considered a top-5 shooting guard in this league. There are many holes to his game. One may point out his horrendous career average of 1.9 free throw attempts per game, ball handling skills, inconsistency, or knack of getting into foul trouble early in games. But Thompson is a very intelligent player who knows his own flaws.
In the offseason, Thompson continually trains and works hard to patch up his weaknesses. Each year, he brings something new to the table. We have seen him grow into a reliable perimeter defender, and we have seen the retirement of the “#KlayUps” on Twitter. It is very likely that he will add a new dimension to his game that will win more fans over.
Thompson’s competiveness and hunger for improvement is what pushes his ceiling to go up higher. At just 24 years old, he is far from reaching his potential. We have yet to see the best of Klay Thompson.