This article was originally published on Let’s Go Warriors.
Klay Thompson improved drastically in his second year in the NBA. He proved that he is more than just a catch-and-shoot player, he had some incredible performances in the playoffs, and he became the best perimeter defender for the Golden State Warriors in Brandon Rush‘s absence. Every good player can improve in some way though, so here are three things Thompson can work on in the offseason:
In the playoffs, Thompson showed that he can go on huge scoring runs and score at will at times. For example, in Game 2 in the Western Conference semifinals series against the San Antonio Spurs, Thompson had 34 points and 14 rebounds on 13-for-26 shooting from the field and 8-for-9 shooting from the three-point line. However, in games 3-6, he shot 34 percent from the field, and, in games 4-6, he failed to make a three-pointer. If Thompson can become more of a consistent shooter, it will take some of the scoring pressure off of Stephen Curry and David Lee. It would also allow them to get some easier shots, given that the defense will have to respond to Thompson’s efficiency.
Thompson showed vast improvements on the defensive end throughout the season. Thompson guarded Ty Lawson and Tony Parker in the playoffs, and he was great at using his size and length to stop the two speedy guards from shooting mid-range jumpers or driving into the lane. If he can become a consistently effective defender, the Warriors will be that much stronger defensively next season. Thompson could also become more consistent with grabbing defensive rebounds.
2. Attack the basket more and finish
Thompson is such a quality three-point shooter that he often will settle for jump shots. In addition, sometimes when Thompson drives to the basket, he is able to beat his man, but he can’t finish once the big man rotates over. If Thompson can learn a go-to move that he can use to get to the basket more quickly, it will allow him to get off an easier shot before the big man rotates over. Even if he doesn’t make the shot, Thompson needs to attack the basket more, so he can get to the free throw line more. He is an 85.1 percent free-throw shooter for his career, so if his shot is not falling, getting to the free throw line more would allow him to get some easy points and perhaps re-gain his shooting touch.
It would also help if he improved his ball handling skills, because this would allow him to have more control when he drives to the basket. Thompson has shown some improvement in his passing and ball distribution, so a better handle of the ball would also allow him to get his teammates more involved once he starts his drive to the basket.
3. Stay aggressive on defense, but limit fouls
Thompson has proven that he can be the best perimeter defender on the Warriors. He guards pick-and-rolls well, and he’s especially effective against smaller, quicker guards, because he uses his size to his advantage. He stays physical with them, but that can get him into trouble. In Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Spurs, the Warriors were up by 16 points and Thompson fouled out with 3:57 left in the fourth quarter. At that point, Thompson had limited Parker to 12 points on 4-of-15 shooting. The Spurs went on a 18-2 run to send the game to overtime. In that span, Parker scored six points on 3-of-3 shooting, since he was able to score more freely without Thompson guarding him.
Thompson needs to stay out of foul trouble in order for the Warriors to be successful. He can sometimes become too aggressive on defense and shove his opponent a little or, like Curry does sometimes, he can reach in too often as well. Thompson needs to find a way to stay on the floor, especially in significant games, because his stellar defense allows Curry to take over the easier defensive assignment. Also, since he can stay in front of guards well, he doesn’t need other help defenders to slide over, which would expose the paint or the basket.