It’s not time to lampoon Klay Thompson just yet. Perhaps there’s some concern regarding his 23 percent field goal percentage over his last four games. But the best way to describe his putrid slump is simply a typical sophomore rut. However, there is a simple fix to Thompson’s recent shooting woes: attempt fewer shots from the perimeter, much like Harrison Barnes.
Barnes and Thompson are two inordinately similar assets, don’t get me wrong, but they’re different. See, Thompson attempts a gaudy seven three-pointers per game, good enough for second in the NBA. Barnes attempts two, and they each shoot 33.3 percent on shots from beyond the arc.
Now, here’s the catch. Thompson attempts only 1.8 shots at the rim per game, while Barnes attempts exactly three shots. And despite a lower amount of attempts, Thompson doesn’t vaunt a higher field goal percentage (65.8% for Thompson versus 79.2% for Barnes). Barnes boasts a lead because he simply attacks while Thompson floats up a few more lazy floaters that have less of a chance of rolling in the hoop.
From the perimeter, particularly three-point range, we have an entirely different situation, however.
When shots aren’t falling for the sophomore, he has a tendency to keep firing away. In his defense, all players are told to shoot their way out of prolonged slumps. This wisdom esecially applies to Thompson who shoots the lights of the gym more than he doesn’t. He, however, has taken that saying to an entirely different extent lately.
Let’s take a jaunt in Barnes‘ shoes first. On Monday night against the Mavericks, he was blazing hot, going 4-for-6 from beyond the arc. Then Thompson, on the other hand, went a dreadful 1-for-6. After he missed roughly three shots, anyone with an active brain could determine that it simply wasn’t his night.
For a player with Thompson’s reputation, he is assuredly going to take his fair share of shots. Whether those shots are three pointers or in the mid-range, he’s going to shoot. That’s his niché, and his biggest strength for that matter. However, during his slump, he is forcing the issue a bit more and it’s doing more harm then good.
Barnes, in retrospect, takes a different route. For example, the North Carolina product went 0-for-2 from three-point range on Sunday night against the Thunder. Seeing that he shot 5-for-6 on attempts at the rim, though, there’s evidence to prove that he changed his approach significantly after coming to the realization that he wasn’t going to have a field day.
So in other words, even when Barnes’ shots aren’t exactly falling, he is still finding an alternative way to score. That’s pretty much the definition of an elite scorer, if I’m not mistaken. Granted Barnes has to rely more interior than Thompson does because he isn’t nearly the prolific shooter that Thompson. Yet, this doesn’t mean that Thompson wouldn’t be wise to implement a more aggressive approach when he isn’t sharp. If he doesn’t and he isn’t shooting the ball well, then he isn’t very effective and therefore, the Warriors have better options.
Plus, if Thompson were to steadily mold into a more modified version of Barnes, the Warriors as a team would be nonetheless benefit.
Obviously more drives into the paint would naturally translate into more offensive rebounds. At the moment, the Warriors aren’t so good in either of those regards, as they attempt just 26 shots in the paint per game which is the fourth worst figure in the NBA. If that number were to balloon just a tad, so would their middling offensive rebounding rate of roughly 28 per game. Basically, the Dubs would be killing two problems with one simple game plan tweak.
Until Andrew Bogut returns at 100 percent, though, Golden State’s average offensive rebounding rate won’t change a ton. And when that mark of 28 does differentiate, it will also depend on the opponent.
Take Sunday and Monday for example. Against the Thunder on Sunday, the Dubs totaled a 21 ORR as opposed to the Thunder’s 27 ORR mark. Then on Monday, they blew away a depleted Dallas front court with a 35 to 14 separation. It’s needless to say that the Warriors will dominate any mediocre front court, but barely stay with the elite.
Remember, this isn’t to say that Thompson should entirely shutdown his perimeter game. Heck, this is a man who has drawn several comparisons to the great Ray Allen in barely a year in the league. But if he were to include some drives when’s he is not hitting, he would improve the Warriors significantly.
Therefore, he should take a page from Barnes’s book.