67RIEFNS No. 51: Klay Thompson proving his worth during NBA games

5 Comments

The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

When last season end, Klay Thompson was a solid young player who – despite posting a below-average PER in each of his three seasons – sometimes came up in discussions of the next generation of shooting guards.

Today, he’s seen as near-lock to receive a max contract.

How did Thompson’s reputation change without him playing a single NBA game?

The Timberwolves sought Thompson in a potential Kevin Love trade, and the Warriors resisted. That made everyone examine Thompson more closely, and he held up pretty well to the scrutiny. Sure, he has a below-average PER, but that stat definitely undervalues his defense and probably the effect his 3-point shooting has on floor spacing.

Then, Thompson impressed at World Cup tryouts and made Team USA. In the tournament, helped the Americans win gold, showing those 3-and-D skills everyone had heard so much about.

When he returned home, his agent called him the NBA’s best-two way shooting guard right now, a clever phrasing that downgraded James Harden (whose defense is lacking) and Kobe Bryant (who missed most of last season).

Lately, a discussion of the NBA’s best backcourt has heated up, and Golden State’s duo of Thompson and Stephen Curry is the popular choice. Curry is clearly the better of the pair, but his success lifts Thompson’s prestige, too.

And that’s how Thompson went from intriguing to expecting a max contract. Surprisingly, Golden State has yet to deliver.

Unsurprisingly, public sentiment is behind Thompson. When the Warriors declined to trade him, they indicated a willingness to pay him the max. If Love is a clear max player – and he is – so is someone Golden State deemed more valuable. A max extension seemed inevitable even before the new national TV contracts made a max extension relatively favorable to the Warriors.

I’m not so certain Thompson is as valuable as his post-summer stock, though he played well in the preseason. I’m certainly not eliminating the idea that he is.

But I’d like to see him prove in NBA games rather than just at the negotiating table, in international mismatches and in the court of public opinion.