The Golden State Warriors have played three games since the Monta Ellis trade and the team’s identity has changed to some degree. The offense has bogged down at times, but the players are still sharing the ball more and have the look of a collective bunch more so than anything now. Granted, this has happened with Stephen Curry being sidelined and therefore the Warriors’ dynamic will change once again once he reinserts the lineup.

With that said, no one has benefited more from the Ellis trade than Klay Thompson. The former Washington State guard has seen his playing time go from 18.8 minutes per game pre-trade to a staggering 39.7 minutes per game since the high scoring guard has been shipped out. Not so coincidentally, his shot attempts and points are up; but more importantly, so is his confidence.

Warriors fans can only hope that he becomes somewhat more judicious in his shot-selection, but Klay Thompson is now playing as if he was told not to bother looking over his shoulder. Indeed, there have been times where he has taken some questionable shots in the last three games, but one can actually make the case that it’s a good thing.

The rookie guard is finally realizing that he has all the tools necessary to be a good shooter but also a good scorer. Thompson likes to run through screens, set up defenders with his jump shot and selectively attack the basket.

Keep in mind though, Klay Thompson’s game has evolved during the course of the season as he has slowly started to figure out what he can get away with in the NBA. The three-game sample since the Ellis swap is evidently not enough to project the remainder of the season or his career; but a good trend has emerged from these contests.

During the season, Thompson has spent considerable time firing away from 3-point range and seemingly avoiding the free throw line. Trough 41 games, the rook has attempted 127 3-pointers versus 38 free throw attempts. If we take these total figures and see what they look like on a per game basis, it looks as such:







Thompson’s averages are very Kyle Korveresque; which is intriguing considering that Thompson looks more like a scorer than the Chicago Bulls’ shooting guard. And true enough, he has looked a bit more like a scorer as opposed to a spot up shooter as of late.

In the games against Sacramento, Boston and Milwaukee, the first year guard has attempted 17 shots from deep and 11 from the charity stripe. He is still shooting more 3-pointers than freebies, but the gap between both figures has dropped significantly. Look at the per game figures for those three contests:





With the added minutes, Thompson is attempting a few more 3-pointers, but his willingness to take the ball to the rim and not simply settle for outside shots has allowed him to mix up his game and get to the free throw line. Once again though, the sample is awfully small, and also there have been times at which the rookie has taken some low percentage shots. With that said, he is in the process of evolving as a player right before our eyes and will be a key contributor to the Warriors going forward.

The Utah Jazz will probably try to be physical with the former Washington State player tonight — 6:00 PM tip off time– and force him off of his sweet spots and make him take tough shots. Utah has been a notoriously physical team but they also tend to commit a lot of fouls. This will be an important step for the young guard as it will go a long way towards helping him build confidence in playing against physical defenders.

As the Golden State Warriors evolve, so does Klay Thompson…

And that’s a good thing.

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