Maybe we all knew Klay Thompson was destined to get paid. Perhaps it was inevitable. After all, he’s a young 18-point scorer on a playoff team with lethal range. Those stats still matter. He was a lottery pick that had piqued the interests of teams earlier than Golden State at No. 11 in the 2011 draft. This development should have been somewhat predictable.
But, perhaps because I’m from the Midwest, I never necessarily expected the crazed hoopla surrounding Klay Thompson that we’ve seen this summer. Of course, his narrative is now irrevocably intertwined with that of Kevin Love. (To note: Love is only a year and a half older than Thompson despite being drafted in 2008, not 2011.) The Warriors have reportedly refused to include Klay in these much-discussed trade talks. Now, we can look at what the Austin Clemens shot charts have to say about Klay.
There you have it. The shot chart of a player that is a sure bet to receive the rookie mini-max extension (a la Gordon Hayward’s four-year $63 million deal) next summer. What does Thompson do well? Shoot. He shoots a lot. He doesn’t provide that significant of value elsewhere. His 535 threes attempted were third-most in the league last year — behind only his teammate Stephen Curry (615) and Portland’s Damian Lillard (554).
Klay shot an outstanding 41.7% on those attempts. The league average is 36.0%. So before we get too upset about any possible contract or the nuances behind his shooting percentage, just hold on to that fact. It’s important to remember that Klay provided an additional 91.7 points compared to the league average on threes alone last season.
One of the fun parts of Austin’s charts is to analyze a player’s career arc. Here, we can view Klay’s three NBA seasons in one spectacular GIF:
His three-point shooting strengths in the 2013-14 season are almost inversed from the 2011-12 season. As a rookie, the right wing and left corner were his most efficient spots. Now, it has become the left wing and the right corner. Why could that be the case? Recall that Curry played only 722 minutes in 2011-12. Then, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green joined the fold the next season. Those changes likely altered the dynamics of where Klay ended up with the ball.
One of the most important things to glean from Klay’s stats are his very high assisted rates. He was assisted on 62.2% of two-pointers (league average is 51.8%) and 94.3% of three-pointers (league average is 83.7%). He doesn’t create the bulk of his own looks. That is potentially an issue if he’s not playing alongside a dynamic ballhandler like Curry.
For his career, Klay Thompson has shot only 23.8% (26-for-109) on threes via isolation and pick-and-roll ballhandling situations, per Synergy Sports Technology. That is quite troubling, not just the efficiency but also the lack of opportunities. I’d worry about how well he could play without the threat of Curry. As talented as Ricky Rubio might be over in Minnesota, he doesn’t scare away defenders inside or outside.
How much better was Klay Thompson than say, 33-year-old Kyle Korver? Both have very assisted field goal make rates. Both have pretty solid defensive skills within a system (Klay certainly showcased them during the playoffs). Both are very good shooters. Thompson has far more long-term potential, but could he do it on his own? Is that even close to a good value at upwards of $16 million per year?