Filed under: I did not like this pick.

Klay Thompson has been a high riser in the draft and it’s literally not hard to see why: The kid plays a beautiful game, he moves with a loping grace that conjures Brandon Roy memories, and the shot can get wetter than dying polar bears. Klay does this while making many a notable court-intelligent decision, choices that likely, heavily influenced Jerry West’s selection.

But, at a career 42.3 % NCAA field goal percentage, this is precisely what worries me about Thompson: He perhaps overachieves on guile and his statistical production could reflect guile’s limitations. The concern is that the Warriors drafted already-realized potential, as opposed to tapping a grower like Kawhi Leonard.

Credit where it’s due, Jerry West is indeed seeing something impressive–at least at the college level. Below, is a tangible example of Klay’s vaguely explained “high basketball IQ” (Thank you to Jim Barnett for highlighting this play). Thompson runs his man into a screen on what looks like a curl. Mid-jaunt, KT cuts in the opposite direction towards an open three. The defender is stuck moving around a screen for a curl that never comes.

Swoosh. It’s this kind of action that draws praise from film-gurus like Sebastian Pruiti. I’m equally impressed by his screen-usage, but more than happy to go negative with a positive: If Thompson is this smart, then why aren’t his numbers smarter? This kid certainly knows how to expertly use picks. I’m just not sure that means Golden State is equally good at it.


  • What does this mean for Monta? It could mean nothing. Number 11 picks don’t usually become starters (Acie Law was picked at 11, for example).
  • I’m less inclined to be reverent towards Jerry West than many out there. He’s had a great career, but the septuagenarian executive left Memphis in shambles. Sorry to be age-ist, but I like West better as a consultant than an ultimate decision-maker.

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10 Responses

  1. JJ8

    Filed under: Very good pick.

    – best player available
    – gives us some flexibility to deal Monta if an attractive deal comes along
    – added depth
    – at #11, most nba ready

    what else do ya want? one of the better overall drafts in recent memory. good job W’s.

  2. Vivek

    Klay Thompson could be a great offensive fit for the Warriors at 2 or 3. His drafting doesn’t necessarily mean that Monta needs to be shipped yet (although I do think the Warriors would be smart to deal him soon). Thompson’s size at 2 could make up for his mediocre defense- the extra length should help him contest most NBA 2-guard shots.

    As defensively lacking as the Warriors are, I’m a little surprised they didn’t try to address defense, unless they’re serious about dealing Monta for Iggy. Even then, the Warriors will have to do something to improve low-post scoring. All in all, Thompson could make for a large, offensively capable backcourt with Steph Curry, but the Warriors still have much to do to improve defensively.

    Side Note, I’m starting a website that helps people organize and find pick-up games. We’re launching in San Francisco within the next few weeks. Sign up for our email list to receive a special invite for beta testing!

    • Vivek

      *I meant the Warriors have to find a way to address interior defense, not low-post scoring.

  3. Run Lee MC

    Look around, there were no starting PF’s in this draft. Kawhi? Yeah, the freakish athlete with huge hands and no shot was avail but is he really that much a step above Almundson? No. We got a solid rotation player who can start games or finish with his solid shooting. Finally Monta is getting his arsenal.

  4. jleithart

    I had the pleasure of watching Klay in college being that I live 8 miles away from Pullman’s campus. He’s a fantastic shooter, but his numbers are so low because he often times wasn’t smart about his spots. He carried a WSU team that didn’t have a lot of scorers other than himself and watching him, I thought he forced up way too many shots. I think that the Warriors picked up a fantastic piece for their team and he was a very serviceable defender in college.

  5. Jordan

    Brian- what a dumb comment. The guy obviously did some research. He saw a below average athlete with average length who didn’t have very good college numbers.

  6. Bob the Pig

    Why is it nobody else seemed to hear Jeff Van Gundy say that he was most impressed with Klay’s defensive footwork and the ability to keep his man in front of him, so much so that it surprised him?

    Klay has NBA pedigree, and NBA shot, passing & rebounding skills and is true NBA SG size. That’s what we were missing on our team.

    I hardly think he’s reached his potential and we still have Ellis to deal for more front court depth.

  7. GSbookclub

    I’m not as down on Klay as you, but I still would have rather had Leonard. The guy was a defenseless three point shooter in college, that’s what he’s going to be in the pros. Not a bad choice for a backup SG, but the Ws need defense.

  8. Brian

    You obviuosly know nothing about the Warriors pick in Klay Thompson if you think he has reached his potential. Go do some research. Ask the people that covered him and watched him grow every year. Those that did know he can still be better.