Klay Thompson’s return from two devastating injuries has been nothing short of an inspirational success. Since his historic comeback in January 2022, the veteran Golden State Warriors’ shooting-guard has continued as the 20+ point per game scorer he was beforehand.
Yet that’s not to say Thompson is the prime, All-Star caliber player he was pre-injury. There’s now question marks on whether he can ever return to that level, made all the more important by his pending free agency next offseason.
The Golden State Warriors’ offseason addition of Chris Paul could revitalize Klay Thompson to the All-Star level player he was pre-injury.
When fans and analysts discuss Thompson’s slight decline, most point to the defensive end of the floor — his expected loss of lateral quickness and subsequent inability to chase smaller guards on the perimeter. Offensively though, his points over the last two seasons have come with slightly less efficiency,
Speaking on an upcoming episode of the Podcast P with Paul George presented by Wave Sports + Entertainment, Thompson spoke about the impact that Chris Paul may have on him personally as the Warriors look to integrate the 12-time All-Star.
"“He’s elevated every franchise he ran the point for. And me as a shooter, I’m excited”, Thompson said. “I just know CP is gonna put it right here on the seams, he’s gonna set me up nice. I’m gonna get a couple extra easy buckets every night.”"
Those ‘extra easy buckets’ Thompson speaks about could have a decent bearing on his final shooting numbers at the end of the season. The 33-year-old has shot 42.9% and 43.6% from the field upon his return from injury, the worst two marks of his career since his second season in the league.
Why has his percentages dropped slightly? There’s no coincidence that it’s emanated from an alteration in assisted v unassisted shots. Over the last two seasons, Thompson averages 3.92 assisted field-goals made for every unassisted field-goal made. In the four seasons prior to his injury, the ratio was 4.55.
With Paul now in the mix — a player who’s finished in the top seven in assists per game in 17 of his 18 seasons — there should be less need for Thompson to generate his own shots. The results should see him move back closer to a 4.5 assisted v unassisted ratio, and hopefully a shooting percentage closer to 50%. The easier offense could also allow him more energy on the other end, potentially providing the means for him to be a more impactful defender.
While many have been focused on the impact Paul could have on the Warrior second unit and the team’s young players like Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody, the influence he could have on Golden State’s veterans is an underrated element that shouldn’t be ignored.