Watching the Warriors-Clippers game Thursday night, you probably noticed Klay Thompson had a Dunleavy-esque disappearing act the day after exploding for a career-high 38 points in just three quarters against the Lakers.
Thompson, who was named the fifth starter over Harrison Barnes this week, finished with just 10 points on seven shots. Charles Barkley said on TNT that he’d be taking seven shots in the first five minutes of the game coming off a 38-point night. Thompson was just as critical of himself at Saturday’s shootaround. Here’s what he said, per Marcus Thompson:
“Yeah, that’s inexcusable to take only seven shots,” Thompson said after Saturday’s shootaround. “At least get up 10. I’m out there to be a threat and I’m not that much of a threat if I’m only taken seven shots.” [...]
Thompson said he thought he played well in the flow of the game. He didn’t take any bad shots. The looks he got against the Lakers just weren’t there against the Clippers.
But that’s the next level of development for Thompson, creating offense. It was a part of his game that looked to be improved during the preseason.
Thompson said he can get more looks by rebounding and pushing the ball, calling for a screen and making a play. He can also move more off the ball, finding creases in the defense and better angles for the passer. The more the Warriors play in transition, the more looks he gets, so picking up the pace favors Thompson.
“Just gotta find ways to score when the offense isn’t called for me. That’s what the greats do. I’m still learning. If I get 7 shots and we win, a different story. But if I get seven shots and we lose, that means I wasn’t being aggressive. … I look forward to, in the future, being effective in different ways than shooting.”
This has been a recurring problem thus far in his career. He’ll have a huge offensive outpouring one game and then poof! He’s inexplicably silent the next game or two. No aggressiveness with his shot selection. Like he’s trying almost too hard to let the game come to him. Might as well be back in the locker room playing Xbox.
But the reason the Warriors lost Thursday wasn’t because Klay Thompson played hot potato with the basketball most of the night. It’s not even close to the top reason. The Warriors offense doesn’t go through Klay Thompson. The Warriors lost because they took terrible care of the basketball and had no defensive answer for the Clippers offense, primarily when dealing with Cliff Paul’s twin.
That’s the good thing about the Warriors on offense now. After Stephen Curry, there’s multiple guys who can step up on any given night. Not the same two or three cats are expected to deliver the same production night in and night out. Is Thompson still an integral part of the Warriors offense? Absolutely. But on Thursday you had David Lee and Andrew Bogut stepping up. And, of course, you had Stephen Curry doing Stephen Curry things with the basketball in the second half, as Stephen Curry is wont to do. And they still almost won! They just couldn’t get over the aforementioned stumbles.
Now, this isn’t to excuse an efficient long-range shooter like Thompson putting up single-digit field goal attempts. Bro, you scored 38 points in three quarters the night before. How are you not saying to the rest of your team, “Screw you guys. I scored 38 points last night. THIS IS MY BASKETBALL,” and jacking up 25 shots in the first quarter, to the point where even Kobe Bryant thinks you need to pass the ball? That a part of Thompson’s game that he needs to improve (in addition to creating his own offense). That consistent selfish streak. Minimizing the lapses into tentativeness. That’s sounds awfully like the way I play basketball. When you look up “selfish” in the thesaurus, next to the antonyms is a picture of me playing basketball, probably passing up a wide-open shot. But here’s the thing—I’m not gifted with the shooting touch that Thompson has.
In the meantime, at least, he’s fully aware of the problem. So look for him to have seven field goal attempts by the time he steps off the team bus at the arena Saturday against the Kings.