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Klay Thompson finally made his return after two serious injuries earlier in January to cap off a grueling rehab where he missed over 900 days of in-game Warriors action. As many players come back from serious injuries, consistency is something that takes time to build back for players to get back to where they were pre-injury.
Thompson is no exception.
In 20 games this season, Thompson is averaging 16.7 points on 40.9% shooting and 36.2% from downtown. He has not averaged this low in points since his second year in the league, and has never shot below 40% from the perimeter.
Much of Thompson’s shooting struggles has to do with the absence of Draymond Green. The shooter is not too much of a play maker, and Green’s ball handling ability will make defenders respect that and sag off Thompson.
Thompson seemed to be getting back in a groove in February when he shot 44.8% from the field and 45.6% from three in seven games. However, he came down with an illness towards the start of March and has gone back into a mini-slump.
Heavy.com Sean Deveney and Steve Bulpett talked at length about the sharpshooter’s struggle in a March 8 livestream.
“I think there’s no question that he could get back into some kind of rhythm, offensively,” Deveney says. “Defensively, I’m not so sure. He just looks to me a little slow. And, you know, with the injuries that he’s had at age 32, it doesn’t, you don’t usually get better. You know, I mean, you don’t usually, you don’t usually improve from there.”
The track record has shown as players get older that their defense starts to fall off, as they are not as agile and quick to get in front of players in their twenties. Obviously, Thompson would beg to differ here, as he told the media of why he wanted to guard the opposing teams’ best players after the March 8 game against the Clippers.
“Part of these 20 games I have not felt that responsibility for a couple years. I always thought to challenge myself defensively. I knew it would take some time before I can become that two-way force that I am. Why not start now? I thought that in my head.”
Warriors Aren’t Too Worried About Thompson’s Inconsistencies
With the Warriors going through the toughest stretch of their season, any struggling element is magnified and discussed to a tee. This is exactly what is going on with Thompson’s shooting woes, yet the Warriors brass is not too concerned.
One Warriors source told Deveney, “No one is expecting Klay to be anything more than what he is right now. Inconsistent, for sure, but he still can win a game for us when he is hot, as he has been at times. We don’t think he is going to lose any games for us, though. We can accept that he just is what he is right now, he is not making 45% of his 3s, and we’re not expecting that. It could mean you see more Jordan Poole at times. That won’t bother Klay.”
Nobody seems too concerned with Thompson’s shooting, as he is a career 41.7% three-point shooter. The real question remains as if he can finally get back to his elite defensive self.
Warriors Could Lean on Jordan Poole over Thompson
With Poole’s emergence as another offensive weapon, the Warriors will have more options as they gear up for the playoffs. It should not be surprising to see Thompson struggle at times offensively, and if his defense does not improve, the Warriors could very well have Poole take some of Thompson’s minutes.
Knowing how chill Thompson’s personality is, it isn’t shocking to see the team expecting the Washington State product to be okay with Poole taking his minutes.
The Warriors are one of the few franchises in today’s league where they have multiple stars who can swallow their ego and pass the baton to teammates to get the job done. Other stars around the league may have already gone through two to three different teams in a five-year span, yet the Dubs have so much continuity with Green, Thompson, and Steph Curry.