Reader’s Note: Beginning January 29, WarriorsWorld is spending two weeks examining the play of Klay Thompson. We first performed this exercise with David Lee. In his second NBA season, Thompson has been the Warriors’ most inconsistent player. You can argue that he hasn’t improved much from his rookie year and has made some of the most boneheaded plays this side of JaVale McGee. But when his shot is falling, it’s a thing of beauty. We are providing an unbiased look by watching Klay Thompson, and only Klay Thompson, on both ends of the floor for a stretch of games ending at the All-Star break. This third installment covers the game vs. Phoenix on February 2.

Previous Klay Watch Games

Game #1 – Cleveland, January 29

Game #2 – Dallas, January 31

By: Jesse Taylor

Warriors 113, Suns 93

After averaging 29.5 points on 21 shots over the previous two games without Steph Curry, Klay Thompson handed the job of carrying the scoring load back to Curry on Saturday night against the Suns.

Curry took the weight and ran with it, scoring 29 points, while Klay disappeared for long stretches.

Now, Klay is not a domineering personality. In fact, from afar, it’s difficult to find a personality at all with Klay. With this Warriors team, there are personalities abound and Klay is easily lost in the background.

You have the appointed leaders in Curry and David Lee. They are BFFs and do a lot of goofy things on the court to show this. Both come off as very nice, very well spoken and very religious. But not the type you want backing you up in a dark alley.

That title belongs to Andrew Bogut and Jarrett Jack. These are the two real leaders of the team. No one will ever question anything these guys say. And no one will ever try to start beef with them. Though tough, they are not jerks. They help the young players and keep things light, like with Jack’s postgame interview interruptions and Bogut tweeting about Jeremy Tyler dropping nasty bombs on the team plane.

Draymond Green will soon join the ranks of Bogut and Jack. Like Jack, Green will never be the most talented guy on the team, but he will work hard, be intimidating and make the most of his skills. He is also a natural leader who will never be disrespected without repercussions.

The extremely likable guys are Festus Ezeli and Kent Bazemore. These are the dudes you love to hang around with. They will laugh at all of your jokes and they just want to have a good time. Very nice and very respectful to others.

Carl Landry and Richard Jefferson are likable veteran leaders who place winning above their own accolades. However, one of them still gets the job done. The other? Not so much.

Brandon Rush and Charles Jenkins are the smooth, cool cats. They get along with everyone, but also have a certain swag about them. With Rush, it’s that southern type of smoothness like his twin Terrence Howard in “Hustle & Flow.” Jenkins has that gritty but friendly style that symbolizes the New York City Burroughs. And he was part of Brooklyn, Brownsville and Queens growing up. Once you’re tight, those guys are your friends for life.

The player who’s on a whole other mental plane than everyone else is Harrison Barnes. He’s like Paul Finch in “American Pie.” Finch had a broader worldview than his high school friends. Wearing a smoking jacket and puffing from a pipe, Finch had sex with older women like Stifler’s mom and didn’t have time for goofy adolescent games. While his teammates act crazy, I can just see Barnes in his seat on the team plane – overhead light on, he’ll glance up for a second, crack a “these guys” smirk, shake his head and get right back to finishing up “East of Eden” on his iBook.

Jeremy Tyler is the guy who tries too hard to fit in, and as a result, never does. He’s not as good as he thinks he is, and he can be a bit annoying because of this.

Andris Biedrins is the foreign exchange student, literally. As such, he will never quite have a seat at the cool table or understand the culture within the team. But like an exchange student, everyone seems to like him even if he’s sometimes the butt of jokes due to his differences.

Last is Klay. I have no idea where he fits in or what his personality is. He’s not a leader. He doesn’t come off as a mean or nice guy. He doesn’t try too hard to fit in. He’s not the intellectual. He’s a basketball player. As was his dad and is his brother. That’s really all I know about him. Maybe that’s all there is to know about him.

Maybe that should be enough. But on this team of characters and over-the-top nice guys, Klay stands out as a question mark.

So with Curry coming back against the Suns to carry the weight and with Klay having to pass the scoring load his way, I couldn’t help but relate Klay and his non-personality to the classic song, “The Weight,” by The Band.

If you’re not aware of the song, here’s a clip. It’s also been featured in numerous movies and TV shows (Easy Rider, Starsky & Hutch, The Big Chill, Girl, Interrupted, Californication).

Maybe incorporating Klay into those abstract lyrics will help us learn more about him as a person.

I pulled into Oracle, damn, Bogut took my parking spot
Just need to find a place where I can get some shots
“Hey, ballboy, can you tell me where a man might find the rack?”
He just grinned and shook my hand, “Sorry, gave the balls to Jack.”

Get some shots up Thompson
Try to shoot some threes
Get some shots up Thompson
Then you put the load on Curry
(Or on Lee)

I walked on the court and went right to the 3-point line
When I saw Curry and David, who never give me the time
I said, “Hey, Curry, come on, would you shoot with me.”
And he said, “Well, I gotta go, but you can shoot with Jeremy.”

Get some shots up Thompson
Try to shoot some threes
Get some shots up Thompson
Then you put the load on Curry
(Or on Lee)

I’m feelin’ lonely, there ain’t nothin’ that you can say
I tried to hang with Draymond, but he told me not today
He said, “Klay, my friend, what about that Russian Beans?”
Beans said, “Do me a favor, Klay, won’t you keep Pete Myers company?”

Get some shots up Thompson
Try to shoot some threes
Get some shots up Thompson
Then you put the load on Curry
(Or on Lee)

Batty Bazemore followed me and he said he wished me well
But he said he’d be my friend if I tore my ACL
I said, “Wait a minute, Bazemore, are you trying to take my place?”
He said, “Yes I am, but when you’re healthy we can do the pre-game race.”
(like Steph and Lee)

Get some shots up Thompson
Try to shoot some threes
Get some shots up Thompson
Then you put the load on Curry
(Or on Lee)

Shoot so many threes, I can’t get to the free throw line
Damn I made no friends, and I do believe that it’s time
To get back to Mark Jackson, you know he’s the only one
Who let’s me shoot so much, so screw you everyone

Get some shots up Thompson
Try to shoot some threes
Get some shots up Thompson
Then you put the load on Curry
(Or on Lee)

In my mind, that’s how it is for Klay on this team. Of course, I have no idea if the other guys think this way about him, but it’s so hard to get a feel for Klay because of his lack of personality.

This leads to him being the most controversial player on the team. His lack of a reaction to the game itself can cause him to appear nonchalant and indifferent.

But in the Suns game, he showed some rare emotion after missing several shots. And even better, on a night when his shot wasn’t falling and he wasn’t getting many plays called for him, he still worked hard to have an impact on the game.

Let’s quickly recap Game 3 in “The Klay Watch.”

He starts guarding Goran Dragic, who opens the quarter with 10 points. Six of them came on two separate 3-point shots where Lee and Green, respectively, failed to rotate on a pick-and-roll. Klay had correctly switched off Dragic.

However, the other four points came at the free throw line where Klay was at fault. On the game’s third possession, Klay loses Dragic on a screen and plays catch up after Dragic gets the pass. Dragic’s pump fake gets Klay, who jumps and commits the foul.

The other came when Klay curled off a screen on offense and forced a layup between Marcin Gortat and P.J. Tucker. His miss led to a Dragic fast break where he was fouled as Klay stayed back and complained to the ref about not getting a call.

Offensively in the first quarter he made a nice back door read and Curry found him under the basket for a reverse layup. It was a nice play by both guys. He also made a strong drive on Jared Dudley but continued to have trouble finishing, as he wasn’t able to control his body enough to get a good look on a layup. He shot it with his left hand and missed badly. He later missed a tough three with Tucker’s hand in his face and made a technical free throw after Tucker and Green had a little beef.

Klay entered the second quarter at the 8:02 mark. He doesn’t touch the ball much and doesn’t even get a shot until 2:12 is left in the half. The shot he does take is one of those shots players take when they haven’t shot in a while. He shoots off an ugly baseline drive on Dragic and doesn’t even hit the rim. Thanks to Curry, he makes up for it moments later as Steph leads a fast break and sets up Klay in the corner. Klay pump fakes a three and Dudley flies by him. Klay then drives in for a wide-open layup. This cuts the Suns lead to three with 1:54 left.

In the second half, off a Lee turnover, Klay jogs back on defense and doesn’t see Dragic run passed him. He has to foul Dragic, who makes the layup for a three-point play and a 58-48 Suns lead with 10:24 left in the third.

Klay starts to create his own action. Off a tipped rebound, he reaches some nice height and grabs a high loose ball over Gortat. As a reward, Jackson finally calls a play for Klay, who comes off a Bogut screen. He gets the pass from Lee and hits an open 17-footer cutting the lead to five at the 9:11 mark. This is just Klay’s 7th point.

Down two, Lee finds Klay wide open in the corner but he misses the three. But the Warriors take the lead later and Klay helps preserve it when Beasley misses a layup and Klay sneaks into the lane to out-fight Gortat for the rebound.

A Warriors 13-0 run ends when Klay gets caught in a Gortat screen and his man Dudley hits a wide-open 16-footer.

After the Warriors fall behind again, Curry and Lee perform a nice pick-and-roll. This leads to Lee finding Klay wide open in the corner for a three. 64-62 with 5:20 left in the third. 10 points for Klay.

We begin to see some floor game improvement from Klay. Rather than take a difficult shot as he drives baseline, Klay drops a nice bounce pass off the dribble to Landry near the basket. Landry hits the layup and is fouled. Next, Klay steals the ball and dribbles full court all the way into the lane before swinging the ball to Landry for another layup. 78-68 Warriors lead.

But sometimes he just can’t help himself. He passes up a 3-pointer (which was wise) and drives in for a tough lefty layup that misses (not wise). It’s good to see he passed up a contended three, but he may have wanted to pull the drive back out. He didn’t have a good shot or anyone to pass to.

But what I liked was the emotion Klay showed after he missed the layup. Out of frustration, he made an aggressive move to snatch the ball away from Beasley, who still rebounded the ball. As he headed down court, Klay pumped his arms downward and clapped his hands while shaking his head, infuriated with himself for his miss.

He leaves with 1:04 left in the third and returns with 8:08 remaining and the Warriors up 92-79.

Klay maintains a solid night of passing when he finds Lee off a screen and Lee converts the layup. Later, he is doubled at the 3-point line and finds Curry wide open. Curry hits a three from the top of the key for a 99-83 lead with 6:22 left.

But on defense, Klay forgets Beasley is left-handed and shades him to the right. Beasley drives left for the easy layup. No worries. Klay comes back and hits a 17-foot jumper off a screen as he’s fading left. 101-85 with 5:14 to go.

He finishes strong, drawing a foul on Tucker and hitting both free throws. On the next possession, he takes a pass from Barnes, and as Dudley attempts to make the steal, Klay grabs the ball away from him and proceeds to hit the wide-open three. This puts the Warriors up 21 and Jackson clears the bench.


Klay finished with a nice stat line of 17 points (6-14 FG, 2-5 3FG), 7 rebounds and 7 assists.

Outside of the usual few plays where he loses focus, Klay’s defense was solid. He has the ability to be a very good defender. He just needs to keep his head in the game more. After scoring 10 points in the first quarter, Dragic ended the game with just 13 points on 3-10 shooting.

Most impressive during this game was Klay’s passing ability. Least impressive was his ability to finish at the rim. At times, the misses are shots he needs to learn to make. Other times, he’s taking shots he shouldn’t even be taking. On these occasions, he needs to pass it off or just back it out.

Without the missed layups, Klay’s shot was on for the most part. With more plays called for him, he could have had another big scoring night.

But on this night, he was fine with putting the load on Curry.