Warriors Rival, MVP Candidate Claps Back at Klay Thompson Critics

Jayson Tatum Ja Morant

Getty Jayson Tatum defends Ja Morant during a bout between the Boston Celtics and the Memphis Grizzlies.

If the NBA‘s Most Improved Player Award was based solely on in-season improvement during a particular year, Golden State Warriors star Klay Thompson would be one of the early frontrunners for the 2022-23 trophy. After a particularly slow start during the first couple weeks of the campaign, Thompson is suddenly looking a lot like the Splash Bro of yore.

Against the upstart Utah Jazz on Friday night, the five-time All-Star dropped six three-point bombs in 12 tries and scored 20 points to go along with six rebounds. Meanwhile, the Dubs outscored their opponents by nine points in his 35 minutes on the court.

That effort brought his line since November 18 to 24.8 PPG on 52.3% shooting overall and an eye-popping 54.8% from three-point range (on more than 10 attempts per contest); a far cry from what he was serving up beforehand.

He has been so good, in fact, that rival star — and noted Dub Nation enemy — Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies was prompted to give the baller a big shout-out.

Ja Morant Speaks Out on Thompson & Simmons

Ja Morant tells me about the beef between the Warriors and GrizzliesJa Morant joins me, Kendrick Perkins and Zach Lowe on NBA Today to preview the Memphis Grizzlies upcoming 2022-23 NBA Season. #NBAonESPN #ESPN #NBAonESPN #NBAToday2022-10-19T20:47:36Z

In the wake of Thompson’s latest super-solid effort, Morant took to Twitter and fired a stiff shot across the bow of the early-season critics of the Warriors star, as well as those who were goofing on Brooklyn Nets guard and former No. 1 overall pick Ben Simmons.

“Ben & Klay been hooping & everybody quiet now,” Morant tweeted on Friday.

The tweet likely came off as a surprise to some after the Dubs and the Grizz squared off in a particularly chippy playoff series last spring. At one point, Morant even went so far as to tweet that Jordan Poole “broke the code” on the play that resulted in his series-ending knee injury.

Flash forward to now, though, and Morant doesn’t really consider the Memphis-Golden State matchup a rivalry, let alone a bitter one. On the contrary, he seems to admire the Warriors for all they’ve accomplished over the last decade or so.

“I feel like everybody in the league is pretty much after Golden State,” Morant said last month on NBA Today. “Just the foundation and legacy they’re doing over there — winning championships, the players they got over there — I feel like they got a target on their back.

“They’re in the same conference as us and, obviously, we got to go through them to get to a championship and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Simmons Has Definitely Been Turning Heads, Too

Morant was right to lump Simmons into his pro-Klay tweet. The Nets star’s early turnaround has arguably been even more dramatic than what we’ve seen with Thompson.

While the Warriors wing was lighting up the Jazz, Simmons was dropping a 20-piece of his own against the Indiana Pacers on a perfect 8-for-8 shooting. And that’s not even his first spotless or near-spotless performance from the field this season.

Over his last six games, Simmons has connected on 41 of his 50 shot attempts for a conversion rate of 82%. And unlike Thompson, the former Sixers cornerstone is making sizable waves in multiple facets of the game, averaging 6.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.2 blocks in addition to his 15.5 points during the same stretch.

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