As the 2023-24 NBA season draws near, Blue Man Hoop will focus on one aspect of potential improvement for every Warrior player.
Although his playoff performances left a rough mark that’s forefront of mind, Klay Thompson’s first full season back from two major injuries had to be regarded as a success.
Still, the sharpshooter will need to return closer to his pre-injury best should he want to add to his four NBA titles. Further removed from his injuries and with a strong offseason in place, there’s a reason to believe that can happen.
So, what does that look like for Thompson? If there’s been any criticism of the 33-year-old since his return last January, it’s that he’s sometimes pushed too far in trying to rediscover his offensive best. As a result, Thompson’s last two seasons have seen the worst field-goal percentages of his career aside from his second year in the league.
Returning to his catch-and-shoot best
Thompson’s three most efficient scoring seasons came between 2015 and 2018, a period where he emerged and solidified himself as one of the best three-point shooters in history. Over those seasons he shot 48.8%, 47% and 46.8% from the field.
If you look at Thompson’s shot profile from those seasons, the frequency of his catch-and-shoot attempts were at 51.1%, 55.1% and 54.2%. He made his name as one of the top handful of off-ball threats in the league, notching up three of his five-straight All-Star appearances.
Focusing back to last season, 48.6% of Thompson’s shots were catch-and-shoot attempts. That’s a significant enough difference from his prime years to impact his overall efficiency from the field.
In fairness to Thompson, his splash brother’s absence for 27 games did place more of the offensive pressure upon him. Not only should Stephen Curry play more this season, but the addition of Chris Paul gives the Warriors another steady point-guard for Thompson to play off.
Paul could prove crucial in Thompson returning to his pre-injury form, allowing him to become the pure catch-and-shoot threat he was between 2015 and 2018. Thompson’s frequency of catch-and-shoot attempts should return above 50%, with his field-goal percentage hopefully going north of 45% as a result.
While most may look to Thompson’s defense as the big area for improvement, but at this stage of his career and after the injuries, that may be an unreasonable expectation. If he can recapture his offensive best, a sixth All-Star appearance could still be for the taking.