Steve Kerr Issues Challenge to Klay Thompson After Rough End to Playoffs

Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.

Getty Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.

Klay Thompson didn’t exactly deliver when the Golden State Warriors needed him to. In the final four games against the Los Angeles Lakers, Thompson cracked double-digits just twice, shooting 25% from the field and 27.7% from beyond the arc.

Not being able to rely on the 33-year-old certainly made things difficult for the Dubs in their defeat against L.A. Though Thompson was undoubtedly disappointing in the final games of the season, head coach Steve Kerr isn’t harping on that.

Instead, he’s challenging Golden State’s No. 11 to get to work this summer and evolve as a player.

“Older players, you get to a certain age, maybe you’re banged up, maybe you’ve had some injuries — you have to adapt…” Kerr told The Athletic’s Tim Kawakami on “The TK Show.” “You have to be aware as an older player that you’ve gotta evolve. I think that’s a big thing for Klay this summer is really thinking about where he can evolve, how he can get better, without giving up the memory of what was a fantastic second half of the year. It’s easy to say, ‘Well, his last three playoff games, oh man, he shot this or that.’ He made 300 3s. He shot 41 percent from the 3-point line. He had a helluva season. But he can get better in other areas. And that will be the basis of my conversations with Klay this summer when it’s time to get back to work. I’m going to really talk to him about some of the things I think he can do to help evolve.”

Kerr’s right, Thompson did have “a helluva season.” It was his best scoring year, at 21.9 points per game, since the 2016-17 season when he averaged 21.5 points each night. He cracked the 40% threshold for 3-point percentage, shooting 41.2% from deep this year.

The 2022-23 season should be a great building block for Thompson, despite its bitter ending.

Jonathan Kuminga Unhappy with Warriors’ Role

Speaking of bitter endings, Warriors forward Jonathan Kuminga may reportedly request a trade, should he not see an increased role next season. The Athletic’s Shams Charania and Anthony Slater broke the story just minutes after Golden State’s season came to a close

“The Warriors and Kuminga’s representatives are expected to discuss his future this offseason, league sources say,” Slater and Charania wrote. “Golden State will need to decide whether Kuminga will receive a full-time role moving forward and, if not, league sources say the No. 7 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft will want to be somewhere he can play more.”

Steve Kerr Hopes to Uses Warriors’ Jonathan Kuminga as ‘Backup Four’

When chatting with Kawakami, Kerr touched on the 20-year-old’s uncertain future in the Bay. He explained that he hopes to utilize Kuminga as a backup four next season, but needs to see improvement on the young star’s side in order for that to happen.

“The minutes are there for him to take at the backup four next year,” he told Kawakami. “He’s gotta make strides, and he and I talked about it. The No. 1 thing is he’s gotta rebound. If he rebounds and he runs the floor, there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for him… But he’s entering his third year next year, he’s 20 years old, got a great future ahead. He’s just gotta keep on the same path he’s on. But he’s gotta make those strides, like I said, on the glass and running the floor, diving in pick-and-roll. If he does those things, he’s going to play more, and that’s how you continue to grow and build your game.”

Kuminga did suit up in 67 regular-season games for Golden State this year, logging about 20.8 minutes each time. Kuminga averaged 9.9 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game, while shooting 51.9% from the field and 37.0% from beyond the arc.

The issue came in the playoffs, when Kerr elected to leave him on the bench in favor of guys who “could impact winning more.”

“I just went with the guys who I thought could impact winning more,” Kerr said. “It doesn’t mean that we stopped believing in JK by any means. It just means that those were the guys we thought would help us win.”

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