May 3, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers guard Chris Paul (3) is defended by Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (11) in game seven of the first round of the 2014 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center. The Clippers defeated the Warriors 126-121 to win the series 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

What Klay Thompson needs to do to earn a max contract

As the turmoil of this NBA offseason coming to a close, all eyes in the Bay Area are locked in on Klay Thompson and the Golden State Warriors.

After the Warriors declined to involve Thompson in any trade packages, it seems that the organization is ready to commit long-term to the Washington State sharpshooter. With one year left on his rookie contract and seeking the resign on a maximum contract, Thompson has to perform at a high level to justify the Warriors’ trust in him.

Offensively, Thompson needs to step up and set himself up as the second option for the Warriors. Last season, the entire offense ran through Stephen Curry, which led to a league-high 3.8 turnovers per game for the point guard. Thompson will have to step in to help support the offense and take the pressure off of Curry. Furthermore, Thompson shot his way to the second most threes in the league last season mainly due to open shots after the opponents double teamed Curry. If Thompson expects to be paid as the franchise player, he cannot simply ride Curry’s coattail for open looks. Thompson will need to share the offensive load with Curry to create a more balanced attack and make the Warriors even harder to defend.

Defensively, Thompson will need to continue to grow into an All-NBA type defender. Already drawing the toughest assignments night in and night out, Thompson will have to settle himself into the role and sustain top tier defense especially in the playoffs. Against Chris Paul and the Clippers, Thompson played admirably, yet still allowed Paul to run the offense relatively smoothly. In the series, Paul averaged 17.4 points, 4.7 rebounds, 9.0 assists and 3.1 steals; while these numbers slightly dipped from his regular season averages, it was still not enough to slow down the Clippers. Thompson will need to find a way to harass the opponents even more and help the Warriors win games on from the defensive side of the ball.

After a first round exit in the playoffs last year, expectations are high for the Warriors to make waves this postseason. Klay Thompson will need to establish himself in the playoffs to silence any critics. While stats don’t tell the full story, detractors will point to his pedestrian averages both in the regular season and in the post season as signs that the 24-year-old is not ready yet.

If Thompson can shoulder more of the offensive load while maintaining lockdown defense on the opponent’s best perimeter player, the Warriors should have no problem giving him the max.

 

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