Klay Thompson can't catch a break.
In Thompson, the Warriors possess one of the best off guards in the NBA, one of the best shooters in the league and a player with one of the prettiest-looking shots in the NBA. And yet, he's also not the best off guard in the league (James Harden), the best shooter on his own team (Stephen Curry) or the person who possesses the prettiest-looking jump shot in the Association (Ray Allen). He's very good, but he's always falling just behind one of his peers.
Now, Klay has another dilemma on his hands, as he is the integral trade chip in a potential Kevin Love trade between the Warriors and the Minnesota Timberwolves. If completed, he'll go from a possible title contender to an organization that hasn't gotten it right outside of drafting Love and Kevin Garnett. Klay can't seem to win.
But is Klay Thompson really worth our sympathy? Is he really good enough to be the centerpiece in a potential deal for one of the league's best players?
On one hand, Thompson is the off-guard prototype. Standing at a rangy 6'7 and possessing great shooting form, the man's lethal from 30 feet and in. His handle is getting better and he's a willing post-up player. He also might dunk on you from time to time.
But even with all those positives in his favor, is he an All-Star level performer? Could he do it on a moribund franchise like Minnesota? Maybe, but his rookie contract is up in a year and the Wolves will have to decide if he's worth big money. Reports suggest that Thompson will seek a max contract following next season.
And that's what you have to really question with Thompson's game: is he worth close to that? So far, he's only shown an ability to contribute significantly in one way: scoring. He's an above-average defender as well, but not good enough to be considered disruptive.
He's not a passer by any stretch of the imagination, as his assist numbers are only slightly higher than Nick Young levels. He's hasn't proven to be a willing rebounder even with his height and reach, as his numbers have stayed relatively flat (3.1 per game in more minutes) in three seasons in Oakland. Getting to the line is not a functional part of his game just yet; he took just 2.3 free throws per game last year.
All of these numbers will likely go up on a bad team, but the biggest concern with Thompson has nothing to do with the stat sheet. It's that he has a tendency to be on the Milk Carton All-Stars.
Time and time again, Klay Thompson will become virtually nonexistent in games. There are moments where Thompson will make virtually anything he throws near the rim, but there are moments where he doesn't get involved. In this way, he reminds me of Vernon Maxwell. Mad Max was a killer in that way 20 years ago, as entire games would swing by the barrage of threes he could sink at a moment's notice. Thompson's game is infinitely more refined than Maxwell's, but his outbursts are similar.
That's a great thing to have when the streaker is your third option in the offense like Maxwell always was. But if he's your main option? That could be an issue. Thompson has the luxury of being a secondary option in Golden State, but he won't have that same comfort in Minnesota.
These are the concerns that must be weighed by the Warriors, Timberwolves or any other team that decides to offer Thompson a new contract. How much do you pay him? Is he talented enough to provide more of a silver lining for Minnesota than anyone in the Oklahoma City package for James Harden? (I'm sorry Thunder fans, I really am.) This is the conundrum that will make or break the biggest potential trade in the league since Carmelo
forced took his talents to New York.
In one year, Harden left Oklahoma City and instantly became the best shooting guard in the NBA. Could Klay challenge for the throne with Ricky Rubio giving him all the passes he can handle? He'll have to improve to get there.
Minnesota, it's your move.
Happy Hour drink recommendation: The Godfather. Did you all see Pat Riley go Vito Corleone during his press conference Thursday morning? Wait, what? You're too young and you've never seen The Godfather? Good grief. All right, just know that Riles went Godfather on the media and it was awesome. Also, drink this because it's two parts scotch (Dewar's is totally fine for this, save your money), one part amaretto and all parts delicious. Be a boss this weekend.
Have a great weekend, everybody. Enjoy.