Slumping Warriors Star Should Get Boost from Klay Thompson Return

Steph Curry

Tom Pennington/Getty Images Steph Curry

It’s no secret that by the standards set for Warriors star Steph Curry, he’s in a little bit of a funk right now. So far,  Curry is having the worst shooting season of his career. Through 35 games he’s shooting 38.8% from three and 42% from the field. The only season that saw him shoot worse was his injury-shortened 2019-20 season, when Curry only played five games and shot 24.5% from three and 40.2% from the field.

For most of the league Curry’s shooting numbers this season would be good, but Curry has career shooting numbers of 43% from three and 47.4% from the field. Heightening the concern for some is that Curry’s struggles have worsened over the last ten games, he’s shot just 34.8% from three and 38.7% from the field. Despite the struggles Golden State Warriors head coach Steve Kerr knows what will help Curry, according to a story from NBC Sports Bay Area.

“It’ll be nice to have Klay out on the floor on the weak side,” Kerr said. “He’ll probably see a lot of open shots given the way teams are guarding Steph. It’ll be nice.”

Despite the struggles Kerr isn’t worried, saying “it happens with everyone.” He also shed some light on why Curry might be struggling.

“The way everybody’s playing Steph, they’re putting their best defender on him,” Kerr said. “They’re attacking him with double teams, getting the ball out of his hands.”

A Deeper Look at Curry’s Struggles

Kerr is right, every great player goes through their droughts, but that doesn’t mean Curry hasn’t been effective. He still ranks fifth in the NBA in scoring with 26.8 points per game and is 19th in assists at 6.1 per game. Curry also ranks 17th in the league in player efficiency rating at 22.21.

Beyond the typical numbers, Curry ranks third in the league in points per shot attempt at 120.1, according to Cleaning the Glass. His effective field goal percentage is sixth in the league at 54.4%.

It’s no secret that more has been expected of Curry without Thompson on the floor. Kerr’s reasoning of drawing the best defender and sometimes multiple defenders is certainly a valid reason for Curry’s struggles. Also you have to take into account the amount of wait on his shoulders and just the fatigue of having to lead and carry the team.

Impact of Klay’s Return

Klay Thompson’s return to the court is one of the most anticipated stories of the season for a reason. He’s a career 19.5 point per game scorer on 41.9% shooting from three and 45.9% from the field. During his last season prior to injury in 2018-19, he ranked top 25 in the league in effective field goal percentage and three-point percentage.

It’s been 31 months since Thompson last played in an NBA game and it seems like he’s trending towards his return on January 9 against the Cleveland Cavaliers, according to ESPN. With such a lengthy absence it’s hard to know what to immediately expect from Thompson.

It will certainly take some time for him to work himself back into game shape and there will be questions about the long term effects of his injuries. Will he be as fast as he use to be on the defensive end? How close will he be to what he was before? Regardless of the answers to those questions, the immediate impact of Thompson’s return is the attention he will draw on the defensive end and how that will lighten the attention on Curry and others.

Even with Curry’s struggles the Warriors are still tied with the Phoenix Suns for the best record in the league at 29-8. The development of the teams role players this year has been huge to their success so far and the return of Thompson should only bolster the roster.

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