Is Klay Thompson Back on Track?


January 11, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson (11) looks on during the third quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena. The Warriors defeated the Trail Blazers 103-97. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Klay Thompson has been listed as one of the rising stars of the season, but has he been playing that way? In the last two games, Thompson has scored 50 points, going 9-of-18 on 3-point shots. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me. Thompson, in these games, is rebounding from a season low two points against Miami, a game where they needed him more than ever. His inconsistency could be a huge problem, but maybe he’s starting to pick it up.

If Thompson was putting these kinds of numbers up last season, it would be normal. But because he is expected to cover the 25 points a game that Monta Ellis left, he needs to increase his output. With the oft-injured Curry and Lee’s minor ankle injury, Thompson has stepped up on cue. While it’s safe to assume that Lee will be back on Monday, Thompson, hopefully, will keep surging.

Bigs such as Landry and Lee are able to dominate the paint. But, other defenders need to help, which is how Klay Thompson lives. He always found the open 3-point shot against the Hornets. If that wasn’t there, he was driving and shooting, or driving and dishing.

In previous games in this New Year, Thompson hasn’t been looking for his shot. Instead, he hesitated. When he does that, his defenders draw closer to him. He now doesn’t have a shot, but he takes it anyway, and the results generally spoke for themselves. These past two games, however, he’s giving up the ball when he doesn’t have a good shot, and taking a good shot when it’s there. The Warriors, as a team, will need to see more of this.

Thompson responded well when many said that he should be benched. Right now, in the middle of this 12-game stretch, the Warriors need him more than ever. He is a huge part of the offensive explosion, but playing these playoff teams has been a tall order for Golden State. Thompson is averaging about 16.7 points, which is pretty good, but his shot selection is hindering the Warriors. This isn’t to say that he doesn’thave the green light, but is shooting only at 43 percent from the field.

January 13, 2013; Denver, CO, USA; Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson (left) drives to the basket while being defended by Denver Nuggets center Kosta Koufos (41) during the second half at the Pepsi Center. The Nuggets won 116-105. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Another way to look at it: Thompson usually has a shot coming off the curl. If that isn’t there, though, he passes it. Another approach that other shooting guards take, is to slash to the basket off a curl. Thompson is shooting 92 percent from the free throw line in January. If he keeps driving to the basket, he’ll get fouled, and he needs to be confident at the free throw line. For him to do that, he needs to forget about that overtime loss to Denver earlier in the season.

The Warriors—if they finish off the month strong—are in a very good spot. Klay Thompson needs to show the Warriors that he’s ready to play. If he continues to play at the level that he has been playing at over the past couple of games, his numbers will continue to rise. With a consistent Thompson, and a healthy Curry and Bogut, the Warriors can only get better.