Klay Thompson has had quite the offseason so far.
He went from being a key player on the Golden State Warriors to being an asset involved in a significant potential trade for Kevin Love. He went from being the symbol, to many Warriors fans, for what the Warriors missed out on (Love) to being one of the final members selected to Team USA and one of two representatives from the Warriors.
Thompson, along with fellow Splash Brother and backcourt mate Stephen Curry, have quickly become two of the most important players on Team USA right now. Curry was a near lock to make the roster from the beginning of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team’s training camp, but Thompson had to prove his worth in order to make the final roster.
Thompson explained this in a recent exclusive diary entry on SFGate.com:
I thought I was competing for a spot on the team from the beginning, because there were so many good wing players. I think I earned it by the way I showed up every day. I think my shooting ability helped – especially being able to stretch the floor in the international game – but I think my defense was the key. I’ve competed on every possession and proven that I can guard multiple positions.
After Paul George‘s devastating injury during the USA Basketball Showcase, there was speculation about if players should withdraw from Team USA, in order to prevent a serious injury from happening and also because of the potential for players to become overly fatigued during the regular season. Both Thompson and Curry decided to not withdraw, because representing their country was more important to them.
Thompson spoke to Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group about this topic recently:
“I’m 24. I’m young. I shouldn’t be tired,” Thompson said. “I’m not playing 40 minutes. I’m playing 15 minutes, 20 minutes. It’s even better than working out at home. I would never get this competition working at home. And it’s a different style of basketball so I’ll be learning somethings i can add to my game. I’ll be in great shape when I come into camp and be ready to go.”
In addition to gaining more valuable experience, Thompson also wrote in his diary entry on SFGate.com about the extra bonding time he’s had with Curry because of their shared experiences on Team USA.
This is going to be good for the Warriors’ backcourt. Our families are coming out here, and we have a lot of down time. If you hang out on a beach with someone or play 36 holes with someone, you learn a lot about them. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
Another benefit to Thompson playing in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup with Team USA is that he can continue to improve his defense, which is already impressive. Thompson discussed with Marcus Thompson how one of his goals this upcoming season and during his time with Team USA is to become even more of a two-way player:
“Absolutely. One of the best ever, Michael Jordan, was one of the greatest defenders ever,” He said. “I’m not saying I am Michael Jordan. But if you want to be a championship player, you have to play both ends. We’ve got some great players in this league who are two-way players. Kobe Bryant. LeBron. Paul George. Kawhi Leonard. I’d love to be known as a guy who gets you 20 points and locks down the best offensive player.”
The Warriors are lucky to have two extremely talented perimeter defenders in Andre Iguodala and Thompson, who can guard three positions (point guard, shooting guard, and small forward) at the NBA level.
Thompson also spoke to Marcus Thompson about his feelings on not being traded, after being included in trade rumors for Love, and his thoughts on the Warriors’ chances at a title.
“I’m happy. It makes me feel great,” Thompson said. “The Warriors believe in me. That makes me want to work that much harder. They believe in me and Steph, they believe in the team we have. I believe in us too. I think we have all the ingredients to win a championship.”
Thompson has always been a confident player. He believes in his skillset, he believes in his work ethic, and he believes in this Warriors team. His experience with Team USA could truly help him improve his game in many ways that could prove to be extremely beneficial to the Warriors this upcoming season.