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.