Klay Thompson Is The Greatest Shooting Guard In The NBA

SHENYANG, CHINA - JUNE 26: NBA player Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors meets fans at Happy Family Mall on June 26, 2017 in Shenyang, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
SHENYANG, CHINA - JUNE 26: NBA player Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors meets fans at Happy Family Mall on June 26, 2017 in Shenyang, China. (Photo by VCG/VCG via Getty Images) /

Klay Thompson has revolutionized the shooting guard position by transforming it from a ball dominant offensive force into the perfect off-ball threat.

Klay Thompson exists in a strange place in the NBA. Though he’s an All-Star and All NBA talent on the best team in the league, he is commonly regarded as the least essential part of the Golden State Warriors core lineup. His supporting role in the offense has led to him being involved in many trade rumors.  He’s been in talks for Kevin Love, Paul George, and most recently, Kyrie Irving.

Those trades have all been rejected by Bob Myers and the Warriors because they know how valuable Thompson is to their team’s chemistry and makeup. Klay Thompson has been molded into the perfect complement for Steph Curry and Kevin Durant.

He’s a constantly moving shooting threat that keeps the defense on their toes and stretches the floor. While Thompson may be the most expendable member of the Warriors all star quartet, he has transformed into the archetypal shooting guard for the modern NBA and revolutionized the way the position is played.

Changing Of The Guard

Since the days of Michael Jordan, the shooting guard has been a glamorous position. A highly athletic skilled player, the shooting guard would be a dangerous one-on-one scorer and the focal point of the offense. Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and countless others were all molded in the shadow of Jordan’s influential take on the position.

The NBA has changed. The old style of isolation hero-ball has vacated for a modern pass heavy, fast paced game. The point guard is now the most ball dominant position, in charge of the offensive load.

Klay Thompson has evolved into the perfect counterpart to the modern point guard. One of the best shooters in the NBA, Thompson stretches the floor like few others. He takes advantage of the space he creates by constantly moving around the court, springing himself for open three pointers or layups. Thompson leads the league in both catch and shoot attempts and makes.

Klay Thompson’s unique skill set was on display in his tour de force performance against Indiana last year. He dropped a career-high 60 points against the Pacers in only 29 minutes. It was a virtuoso performance that crystallized Klay’s revolution: he only held the ball for 90 seconds the whole game!

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However, it isn’t just offense that makes Thompson a special player. He is a world class defender who prides himself on his defensive growth. Thompson often guards the opposing point guard, saving Curry from tough defensive assignments. In  the playoffs, he’s matched up against some of the best offensive players in the NBA. In last year’s Finals, he showed his defensive range by successfully guarding nearly the entire Cavs lineup.

Attack Of The Klay Clones

The Warriors may have found their perfect shooting guard in Klay Thompson, but the rest of the NBA is searching for the ideal backcourt pairing. Other players have found success by mimicking Thompson’s skills. The Detroit Pistons traded for Avery Bradley, an All-Defense player with a strong three point shooting percentage.

The Los Angeles Lakers signed Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who made his name with strong defensive showings against the Warriors. Bradley Beal of the Wizards shows All-Star promise with his two way play, but hasn’t honed either quality like Thompson has.

The Houston Rockets’ James Harden, moving back to shooting guard now that Chris Paul has joined the team, is Klay’s only competitor at the position. It’s fitting as Harden is nearly the polar opposite of Thompson; a ball-dominant player who thrives at the free throw line, he found a new level of success after he moved to point guard last year. Harden’s stats may be better but he’s not even close to the defender that Thompson is.

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Remember, when the Warriors and Rockets met in the first round of the 2016 playoffs with Steph Curry out due to injury, Thompson played Harden straight up while leading the Warriors to a 4-1 rout. With Harden back sharing the spotlight with another star, who knows whether he’ll keep his superstar production.

Can Klay Thompson Be The Star On His Own Team?

Any team is doing good when Klay Thompson can be the 4th best player on the team. However, it’s possible that Thompson could be the first to go if financial issues break up this super team. It’s easy to underrate Klay while his success is attributed to playing with other all stars. He’ll have to have his own team if he ever wants to prove his status as the best shooting guard of his generation. Hopefully for the Warriors, we’ll never need to find out.