You would think a 3 time champion, a top 3 shooter of all time and a top tier defender would constantly be in the conversation of one the best basketball players in the world. Considering that most people view a healthy Klay Thompson a top 20 player would mean that he is one of the best basketball players in the world. Top 20 is a good destination to have but I believe ranking him only in the top 20 is criminally undervaluing what he brings to the game.
I guess that’s the penalty of leadership. Look who he plays with. Steph Curry who is also a top 3 shooter of all time. Flashy, arrogant when winning, people eat that up and as the number 1 option, that has deterred us from seeing Klay Thompson’s full potential. Through the years of playing as a 2nd and for a 3 year stretch, 3rd fiddle to Steph and KD, you’ve never heard Klay once gripe or complain. A superstar level talent that is willing to take a backseat for the best interest of the team is something that we’ve seen only a few times in recent history.
Before Klay was thought of as a star, there was Mark Jackson controlling the dynamics of how the team played. No question Jackson was instrumental in turning around a franchise that was constantly viewed as the joke of the league. Jackson implemented a stout defense which led to a top 5 defensive ranking while under him. The best wing defender was a young Klay Thompson who has undoubtedly gotten better in that area as the years have passed by. During Jackson’s tenure as coach, Steph and Klay were dubbed the slash brothers and became an instant fan favorite. But it felt as if the warriors needed one more piece to get over that constant hump of 1st round exits. Insert trade rumors of Kevin Love for Klay Thompson. The warriors were never going to let go of Klay and saw how important he was to their future.
A season later, Mark Jackson was fired and Steve Kerr was hired. The piece that was missing, the offensive genius of Kerr is what proved to be missing. Once the season began, Klay flourished. It was evident that Klay would be an integral part of anything that the warriors wanted to do. His importance on the defensive end may be his most underrated quality which helped them keep a top ten defense rating throughout the season. Sure he was lackluster in the closing game of the 2015 finals but that would prove to be one of his last games in such games like that. Game 6 Klay would become a real thing. The light skinned assassin would almost black out in every elimination game.
Klay blacking out is nothing new as he would do absurd feats such as scoring 60 points with only dribbling the ball 11 times throughout the game or the game when broke the record for 3’s in a game etc… The list goes on. there probably is no one in the league who can heat up as quick. The fact that the raptors 2019 championship was almost derailed by a vintage Klay Thompson performance in game 5 of the finals. Unfortunately we were robbed by an mcl injury that kept up from witnessing greatness once again.
For now, he’s injured and wont play until the start of the next season. Until then, Klay should be appreciated for the things that he has done so far as he usually never gets his credit.