Breaking Down Klay Thompson’s Slow Start


Courtesy: Warriorsworld

In’s annual anonymous GM survey, Klay Thompson was picked to be the breakout player.  Quite simply, he hasn’t been that player.  His efficiency and shooting have plunged and his PER sits at 11.97, well below the league average of 15.   A lot of this is attributable to the sudden uptick in minutes, from 24.4 to 35.4; remember, Thompson is just a second year player and has been thrust into a large role.  Still, a couple things are concerning:

  • Thompson doesn’t draw fouls.  Out of all shooting guards that play over 30 MPG, Thompson is second to last in his ratio of free throws attempted to field goals attempted.  Basically, this means that Thompson is attempting a lot of shots without getting to the line.  Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, and James Harden, the top shooting guards in the league, are top five in this statistic.  Even Ray Allen, the player Thompson is modeling his game after, has a FTR more than twice that of Thompson.  He needs to start going in to the lane more and looking to get to the line.  With more free throws will come more confidence and higher efficiency.
  • His shot selection this year has given me Monta Ellis flashbacks.  He takes a three with a man in his face one possession then passes up an open one the next.  He has been driving, but settling for fade away jumpshots instead of going all the way to the rack.  This is most likely inexperience (again, he’s still just a sophomore), but is troubling considering many players never grow out of it (I see you, Monta).

While this may just be an early season slump, there are some disturbing trends to keep an eye on.  Now, I watched a little bit of tape and pinned down a couple of parts of his game to develop.

  • Thompson needs to become more of a primary ball handler.  Look, with the way Jarrett Jack has performed this season there is no way the Warriors will be able to keep him.  Stephen Curry has been most effective with Jack handling the ball.  Thompson needs to learn how to run the offense so that Curry can play off the ball at times.
  • We all know how often Thompson comes off screens.  It’s 23.2% of his offense per mySynergySports.  With his catch and shoot abilities, he has gained a reputation as an automatic double coming off the screen.

In this screen capture we can see the moment right after Thompson comes of a David Lee pindown screen.  Lee’s defender, Mullens, has to jump out to prevent the catch and shoot jumper.  This leaves Lee wide open rolling to the rim.  Here are a couple of these passes:

If Thompson can  develop this pass, he becomes that much more of a weapon.