Klay Thompson Proving to Be a Key Player on Team USA


At the beginning of USA Basketball Men’s National Team’s training camp, Klay Thompson didn’t have much of a shot at making the final 12-man roster that would compete in the FIBA Basketball World Cup this summer.

A month and a half later, Thompson has made the final roster and has proven to be a key component to Team USA’s success this summer.

A couple weeks ago, Thompson discussed in his first exclusive diary entry on SFGate.com how he’s proven himself to Coach K:

"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."

Thompson is right that his defense sets him apart from many of the other wing players on Team USA, and his ability to guard four positions in the international game gives him a distinct advantage.

Another aspect of his game that sets him apart is his stellar three-point shooting. The only other person on Team USA that can compete with his shooting ability is his fellow Splash Brother, Stephen Curry. Having both Curry and Thompson on the roster allows Team USA to spread the floor more, which is a key part of the international game.

Thompson explains this concept more in his most recent diary entry on SFGate.com:

"The other big differences in the international game seem to be more spacing and passing. It can be tougher to get into the lane, because there is no defensive three seconds. I think we’re all making the adjustments and playing hard."

Three-point shooting has always been a valuable skill to have in international play, and this is a significant reason why Thompson has become more and more important to Team USA’s success.

Game by game, Thompson has become more comfortable with the international game and the adjustments he needs to make, and Coach K has learned how to best utilize Thompson. This has led to more playing time and more opportunities to prove his worth.

Thompson was mostly just a role player in the beginning of his time with Team USA, but in the last two games, Thompson has stepped up. On September 6th against Mexico in FIBA World Cup’s Round of 16, Thompson scored 15 points, grabbed five rebounds, and dished out two assists. He also knocked down three three-pointers and shot 6-for-14 from the field in 22 minutes.

Curry also had a fantastic game against Mexico, as he scored 20 points on 7-for-10 shooting and 6-for-9 shooting from three-point range. He also dished out four assists.

Here are some of the highlights from the game:

In Team USA’s most recent game on September 9th against Slovenia in FIBA World Cup’s quarterfinals, Thompson led the team with 20 points on 7-for-12 shooting and 4-for-8 shooting from three-point range in 28 minutes. He also grabbed three rebounds and dished out two assists.

Many people believed that both Curry and Thompson should’ve withdrawn from Team USA after Paul George‘s devastating injury, but both players have benefitted from their time with Team USA so far.

Thompson has shown fans why the Warriors were so hesitant to trade him for Kevin Love and why their decision might’ve paid off. Thompson might not be an elite NBA player yet, but he’s improving every single day. He’s proven how important he is to Team USA, and we’ll see this upcoming season just how important he is to this Warriors team.