Warriors Must Put Klay Thompson ‘On Notice’ Amid Slump: Analyst

The shooting struggles of the Warriors' Klay Thompson have come front and center.

The shooting struggles of the Warriors' Klay Thompson have come front and center.

Certainly, we have seen shooting slumps from the Warriors’ Klay Thompson—and any great player, for that matter—before, and it has not been the cause for a major meltdown in Golden State. But what we’ve seen lately from Thompson, and what we saw on Saturday night against the Thunder in the fourth quarter and overtime was something different.

The Warriors blew an 18-point third-quarter lead for the team’s sixth straight loss. It was not all on Klay Thompson, of course, but he played a significant part.

Thompson followed an 0-for-3 output in the fourth quarter by missing all four of his shots in overtime, including an ugly pair of 3-pointers he fired up within nine seconds of each other in the opening moments of overtime. Both shots clanged badly off the rim.

Stephen A. Smith Has Strong Words for Klay Thompson

Thompson’s showing amid increased scrutiny of his shooting woes this week. In fact, longtime ESPN NBA pundit Stephen A. Smith noted that Thompson needed to be, “put on notice.”

“I do think we reached the point in time when somebody has to put Klay Thompson on notice,” Smith said. “My brother, you look like you have slipped tremendously. You said, coming into this season, that this would be the most important offseason and the most important preseason of your career.”

Indeed, the current numbers on Klay Thompson do not reflect a player who is fighting for a top-tier contract extension, which he feels he deserves from the organization. Thompson is 33 years old and turned 34 in February. He is averaging 14.0 points, 40.0% shooting from the field and 33.0% shooting from the 3-point line.

Those are all career-worst numbers.

Coach Steve Kerr on Friday took some comfort in reminding fans, and perhaps himself, that Thompson has had poor starts to seasons before. But the fact that the Warriors are losing has exaggerated the impact of his slump, Kerr said. Maybe the jockeying over his contract has done that, too.

“Klay has frequently started out seasons very cold, for whatever reason,” coach Steve Kerr told reporters Friday after practice, per NBC Sports Bay Area. “If you go back and look at his career, more often than not, he has started slowly. What’s happening this year, with the losing, when you combine a losing streak with a cold streak, that’s especially demoralizing for a competitor like Klay.”

A Warriors Leader & Hall of Famer, But …

Maybe Kerr is right, but Thompson’s showing in overtime of the Warriors’ disheartening loss on Saturday against the Thunder tells another story, one that coaches, scouts and observers around the league have been making note about: Maybe Klay Thompson just is not the same player anymore.

That is the fear of Smith, who paid due respect to the career that Thompson has amassed in his 13 NBA seasons, which includes fighting back from season-ending injuries to his ACL and his Achilles tendon. Thompson has averaged 19.7 points and has shot 41.5% from the 3-point line in his career.

“I do recognize Klay Thompson as one of the Top 5 shooters in the history of basketball, that’s how I feel about him and his marksmanship, the four championships, the pedigree,” Smith said. But he added, “If Klay Thompson isn’t shooting the ball at an elite level, what use is there for him any longer? I’m talking about in terms of championship expectations. He’ll always have a place in the team. He’s a leader and a damn great player, future Hall of Famer.

“But the Klay Thompson we’re seeing right now, I don’t recognize him.”

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