Golden State Warriors’ Klay Thompson is known as one of the best three-point shooters of all-time. But he has become much more than that.
Of course, Thompson still has to play within his skill set. He is never going to be someone who can drive to the basket for a ferocious dunk like Russell Westbrook or a crafty layup like Kyrie Irving. Thompson has dunked just 14 times in 47 games thus far. It is simply not part of his game – but it has not hurt him the way some had expected.
Tim Cato and Satchel Price described this as one of the biggest concerns for Thompson when he was being evaluated as a draft prospect (via SB Nation):
“Although it was clear Thompson had the potential to develop into an all-around scorer at the NBA level, there were concerns about his finishing at the rim.”
As a member of the Warriors, he often gets high-percentage looks when he is left unguarded because defenders are accounting for his teammates who can also score at a high clip.
While these are most often on three-point attempts, this has recently become more a part of his game on attempts near the rim as well.
Perhaps the most surprising statistic from this season is that Thompson is also shooting 77-of-109 (70.6 percent) on layups. Only big man Domantas Sabonis (minimum: 100 attempts) has been more accurate on this shot type.
Thompson is shooting 88-of-122 (72.1 percent) on shots within the restricted area. This ranks No. 2 overall out of all NBA guards who have taken at least 100 per game in this zone, trailing just Milwaukee’s Eric Bledsoe.
Golden State assistant coach Chris DeMarco explained this development to Kevin O’Connor back in October 2018 (via The Ringer):
“His game has evolved. He’s really grown as a player getting to the rim and finishing.”
It has been a fascinating trend to watch as he has become one of the most prolific scorers at his position when near the basket.
For example, Thompson is currently averaging 2.0 points per game when cutting to the basket. This is the most among players who just play guard positions, per Synergy Sports.
The guard has been fouled on 19.1 percent of possessions in this play type. This has helped him draw non-shooting fouls on a career-high 1.6 percent of overall team plays. According to Cleaning the Glass, that currently ranks in the 63rd percentile among all players at his position.
For a sharpshooter like Thompson, he is not typically someone who draws a ton of fouls. This limits his potential availability to get to the free-throw line. But when he is attacking the rim, he has gotten more opportunities than ever at the charity stripe.
As he has become a more seasoned veteran in this league, Thompson has a new element that scouts and defenders have to account for moving forward.