Is Klay Thompson’s Inconsistency an Omen?


January 11, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson (11) dunks the ball past Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (0, right) during the third quarter at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Trail Blazers 103-97. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Warriors’ surprising success this year has been built around back court productivity. Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Jarrett Jack and occasionally Harrison Barnes, have all been contributing in ways that many didn’t foresee prior to the season.

Those four provide constant energy and production, which categorizes them as one of the league’s best quartets. Yes, even ahead of the Lakers, by performance, that is. Big names don’t always materialize, as the Lakers have proven thus far.

The Warriors, however, have ran into a minor but perhaps concerning long term problem—Klay Thompson’s inconsistency. Last season, many pundits opined that he was a future star, but stars aren’t inconsistent. So, can Thompson escape this sophomore slump?

This year, Thompson is averaging 15.9 points per game, 4.0 rebounds and 2.6 assists. At times, he can be mistaken for a point guard because he doesn’t take the pedal off the medal.

Why is this bad?

Well, sometimes, his field goal attempts to makes can be as bad as 8-of-26. His inconsistency is built on two basic words—shot selection. When Thompson has it going, he has the green light. When he’s stuck in a slump, however, he’ll try and shoot his way out of it.

This trend Thompson’s following may seem insignificant at this point in time. Still, Jarrett Jack, who’s been a pleasant surprise for the Warriors this season, won’t  always be able to cover up Thompson’s scoring deficiencies.

When Monta Ellis was traded, he left a huge void in terms of scoring. Carl Landry, Jack and Thompson have filled that gap pretty well. Unfortunately, Thompson hasn’t lived up to expectations. Luckily, Stephen Curry is averaging a career high 20.5 points per game, while others have chipped in as well.

Yes, Thompson’s clutch defense on Damian Lillard in the final seconds against Portland on Friday night was valued, but the Warriors need him to amend his shot selection. If he has an open three and the Warriors are up by one with 13 seconds left, for instance,  he’ll still take the shot despite the circumstances. If he’s in a stout flow, that’s okay, but generally coaches allude bad shot selections.

Thompson’s defense, meanwhile, has dramatically improved. He ranks 68th in the NBA when guarding isolation situations, and 62nd off screens.

But defense aside, if Thompson still hasn’t refined his poor shot selection by the final couple months of the season, then the Warriors will need to dissect the problem and review it with him.

Thompson will undoubtedly be one of the best scorers in the league one day, but he has to breakout of this sophomore slump first, as his hot shooting and defensive intensity may be the deciding factor in the playoffs. If the Warriors get there, that is.