Last Word on Pro Basketball’s Top 30 NBA Players: Klay Thompson

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Although ranking the top 30 NBA players in today’s game is an incredibly difficult task, The Last Word on Pro Basketball staff has taken it on. Debuting at number 20 in the countdown is Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson.

Top 30 NBA Players

Number 20- Klay Thompson

Keep it simple. Perhaps more so than any player in NBA history, Klay Thompson‘s career can be summed up by this brief yet powerful quote. From his unremarkable rank as a high school prospect to his under-the-radar college career at Washington State, Thompson has established himself as an elite shooter and defender. He always seems to be perennially underrated, but he has never strayed from this two-way consistency.

In 2011, Thompson was selected eleventh overall by the Warriors. Together with fellow sharpshooter Stephen Curry, the “Splash Brothers” became a force to be reckoned with. As they matured, the squad inevitably became more and more unstoppable. The team’s remarkable three-point efficiency, coupled with major free agent transactions and management emphasizing analytics, gave rise to the Warriors dynasty. During this historic period, Thompson won championships in 2015, 2017, and 2018. Unfortunately, in his efforts to achieve a coveted “three-peat” for Golden State, Thompson tore his ACL in the Finals. Consequently, he hasn’t played a game in over a year.

Despite his long-term absence from the NBA, Thompson’s contributions to the game of basketball cannot be forgotten. Though the Warriors currently have the worst record in the NBA, expect Thompson and the Warriors to make some noise in the West next season. While his game may be considered “simple” and even low-maintenance, Thompson is well known around the league for his work ethic and fierce spirit. He’ll surely surprise the legions of fans who disregarded himself and the rest of the Warriors.

Strengths

Klay Thompson is arguably the greatest 3&D player in history. There are very few guards that come to memory who provide Thompson’s signature combination of offensive efficiency and defensive prowess.

On offense, Thompson is historically accurate, specifically from downtown. In fact, he’s widely considered the second-best shooter in NBA history behind Stephen Curry. For his career, he takes seven three-point attempts per game on a 42 percent clip. On free throws, he averages about 85 percent.

Thompson is especially valuable for helping to space the floor for the Warriors. He does not need the ball in his hands to succeed, as he is the most lethal off-ball shooter in the league. As a result, Thompson takes a plethora of catch-and-shoot threes, mostly off screens. For his career, he averages about 1.25 points per possession on such shots.

Additionally, Thompson has an undeniably beneficial impact on the defensive end. Because he is known for his incredible shooting acumen, many NBA fans glaze over his defensive skills and consequently fail to understand his sheer importance to the Warriors. Thompson isn’t just an above-average defender, he’s an elite defender. In particular, Thompson specializes in locking down the opposing team’s guard. Overall, Thompson’s tough defense and ability to shut down opponents on the daily were seminal to the seemingly invariable triumph of the Warriors year in and year out.

Weaknesses

As one of the greatest two-way players in NBA history, Klay Thompson has very few weaknesses. However, making improvements in these areas will go a long way towards ensuring continued success in the league.

First, Thompson needs to improve his mediocre assists number. His playmaking is subpar, and he’ll need to step it up given the departure of Andre Iguodala and Kevin Durant. Thompson is not particularly bad at passing; on the contrary, he is simply on the receiving end of passes far more often. Becoming a better playmaker and ball-handler, and consequently accumulating more assists, will allow Thompson to be an even bigger all-around threat.

Also, Thompson consistently underwhelms in terms of rebounding. Despite his 6’8 frame and solid defensive tools, Thompson averages a minuscule 3.5 rebounds a game. In addition, Thompson should strive to improve his off-ball defense. While it is certainly not terrible, his poor defensive vision and inconsistent motor during live-ball circumstances diminish his overall defensive value.

Career Accolades

Klay Thompson won a variety of accolades during his illustrious career. In college, he made the First Team All-Pac 10 in 2010 and 2011. In 2012, he was named to the All-Rookie First Team. He also won a gold medal during the 2016 Summer Olympics. Thompson is a five-time All-Star, and he’s been named once to an All-Defensive Second Team and twice to an All-NBA Third Team. Additionally, he won the Three-Point-Contest during the All-Star weekend in 2016. And of course, Klay Thompson is a three-time NBA champion.

Despite winning enough accolades to guarantee an invitation to Springfield, Thompson still has many years ahead of him. Since he relies more on his defensive instincts and pure shooting form than on pure athleticism, his ACL injury shouldn’t have much of an impact on his play. Given his immense past and potential future contributions to the Warriors and the game of basketball in general, there is no question that Klay Thompson deserves to be ranked among the top 30 players in the NBA.

Last Word on Pro Basketball Top 30 NBA Players Ballots

We believe in full transparency in the top 30 NBA player rankings so we are going to disclose the ballots of our player rankings and where each contributor had each player ranked.

Tyler Marling – Site Manager – 20
Chase Gage – Managing Editor – 16
David Knight – Marketing Manager – 17
Zack Kircher – Associate Editor – 16
Matthew Waldman – Associate Editor – NR
David Ward – Author – 22
Avinash Chauhan – Contributor – 18
Adam Zigner – Contributor – NR
Albert Dadson – Contributor – NR
Dylan Guest – Contributor – 20
Raheem Bashir – Contributor – 13
Nathan Levine – Contributor – 16
Bill Huan – Contributor – 21

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