Utah Jazz v Golden State Warriors

Mark Jackson: Klay Thompson is a top-five shooting guard


Warriors coach Mark Jackson has never been shy about praising his players, once calling Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson the best shooting backcourt of all time.

It’s also becoming increasingly popular to claim high rankings among shooting guards. Just by chance, that’s the weakest position in the NBA right now, so marginal players at the position rank higher than usual.

So of course, Jackson took this opportunity to make a bold claim about Thompson.

Jackson on Thompson, via Marcus Thompson II of the San Jose Mercury News:

“He’s a top-five (shooting) guard in this league,” Jackson says, “and I’m being respectful.”

Actually, that’s not so bold.

As a point of reference, ESPN’s #NBARank projected before the season began Klay Thompson would be a top-five shooting guard. Here are the five shooting guards who appeared in the top 60 of all players:

4. James Harden

18. Dwyane Wade

25. Kobe Bryant

59. Joe Johnson

60. Klay Thompson

Since, Thompson has exceeded most expectations.

He’s averaging 20.9 points per game and shooting 55 percent from the field and 51 percent on 3-pointers. His PER, 21.55, ranks behind only Kevin Martin and James Harden among shooting guards.

All things considered, I’d rank Thompson fourth – behind Harden, Wade and Kobe.

Thompson has actually played better so far this season than Wade and Kobe (who obviously hasn’t played at all), but that’s a small sample and the two older players have been so good for so long that they deserve the benefit of the doubt.

But I think Thompson has actually passed Johnson without anyone catching him from behind, though Bradley Beal is within striking distance and Martin looks very good so far.

Really, Jackson is selling Thompson short. Until the coach claims Thompson is better than Kobe, this isn’t that controversial.

Carmelo Anthony says he can play at high level 4-5 more years

USA Basketball Men's National Team Training Camp

Carmelo Anthony can flat-out score the rock — that has never been the question. Even hurting last season for many of the 40 games he played, he averaged 24.2 points a game, had a true shooting percentage of 53.1 percent (right near the league average) while having the entire weight of the Knicks offense on his shoulders (32.2 usage rate, fifth highest in the NBA). When people (or players) talk about him being overrated, the discussion turns to defense or if he makes his teammates better. But there should be no doubt Anthony is an elite scorer.

He thinks he will be for a while longer — like another five years. Via Ian Begley of ESPN:

In fact, the 31-year-old Knicks star is confident that he can play at a high level for the next “four or five years.”

“Without a doubt. Without a doubt,” Anthony said after the Knicks’ final training camp practice on Saturday.

The Knicks better hope that’s true, they already made that bet with that massive five-year contract they gave him last summer.

Anthony’s age combined with him coming off knee surgery have a lot of people — myself included — expecting him to take a step back. Not a big one, but he is coming up at the point in his career where some open shots he used to get are now contested because he’s half-a-step slower, and some of those looks don’t fall as often. His jumper isn’t suddenly going to look like Rajon Rondo‘s, ‘Melo is going to get his points, but he may not be as efficient.

Fortunately, the Knicks have an improved supporting cast around him this season. That should take some offensive load off his shoulders, and maybe the Knicks offense will see better ball movement and start to resemble the triangle. If it’s just more isolation Anthony, it’s not going to be pretty.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.