The NBA season hasn't started the way Golden State Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson imagined. He's shot the ball poorly, hasn't been defending the way the team has been accustomed to, and he's getting in his own head. Stop me if you've read this before about the Dubs' two-guard in November. Thompson is a notoriously slow starter. In 2015-16, he didn't score his first 20 point game until eight contests in. He didn't have a 30-point game until mid-December, and then he had that famous 37-point quarter the month after.
But this year is different. The Warriors have added the best scorer in the game in Kevin Durant to the lineup, and touches aren't coming around as often. Harrison Barnes didn't need the ball anywhere near the amount that Durant does. Through three games in November, Thompson has taken 50 shots. He's only made 17 of those field goals, making his shooting percentage 34% for the month and at just 38% on the season through the first six games. Most of Thompson's shots are coming off the catch, and he's been missing tons of open looks.
The beauty of the NBA is that it's an 82-game season. Some say it's too many games. I think it's perfect, but we'll save that for another time. During the course of the season, there are many different checkpoints. A 27-game mark is good because it's not too early in the season to evaluate what you're working with, but it's early enough to see what faults a player or team has, giving them the ability to make a move if needed.
The move the that's constantly being thrown out there by media and fans is having Thompson come off the bench for the Warriors. It's rare to have three guys capable of dropping 30 on any given night in the same starting lineup, and the necessary usage for the three wouldn't be close to their potential if they're all playing at the same time. Thompson is clearly the weak link among him, Durant, and Stephen Curry, and there is no way in hell Durant or Curry will ever be coming off the bench either. This makes for an interesting scenario: having one of the best two-way players in the league as your 6th man. Manu Ginobili has done it for years for the San Antonio Spurs, and he's a multiple-time NBA Champion. The irony here is that Thompson compared himself to Ginobili this past off-season, saying he gave up personal glory for a chance to win. There was another article however, where Thompson said despite the addition of Durant, "he's not sacrificing sh*t this season."
Outside of his rookie season, Thompson has started in every game in his career. He hasn't come off the bench since 2011-2012, and it would be a hard transition to make. Andre Iguodala did it after starting over 800 games, but it worked out well for him. He's a playmaker and can get everyone else in the game involved. Thompson isn't that type of player. His motto is to shoot and get himself going, which would create some pros and cons for the rest of the bench unit. They wouldn't get the same amount of touches but it would create more opportunities with the defensive attention going toward Thompson.
And if Thompson were to come off the bench, that means Iguodala would be starting. Ian Clark isn't ready for that role. Neither is Patrick McCaw. A bench unit of Shaun Livingston, Thompson, McCaw, Kevon Looney, and Davis West doesn't look too bad on paper. The Warriors get a scorer in the second unit while Durant and Curry get more free reign in the offense. But it hasn't been about shots. Durant has been getting his and connecting. Curry has been getting his and has looked fine. Thompson is the only one who can't get it going despite the same amount of shot attempts. Some speculation is that he's worn down. Starting in the Rio Olympics after the grueling 73-win season and a seven-game NBA Finals series can burn you out. A shooter with tired legs isn't a pleasant sight for anyone. Thompson is also usually guarding the other team's best player and has been for a while, and it might be taking a toll on him.
Widely regarded as one of the best shooting guards in the game, Thompson would have to sacrifice the fame if he were to come off the bench. He wouldn't be thought of as highly in the individual NBA ranks, and it's no guarantee that it would make the Warriors more successful. It's way too early to tell.
The Miami Heat had a "Big Three." The Boston Celtics had a "Big Three." This Warriors team has a "Big Four," and they're all 28 or under. They will be scary in this league for a long time. There's no doubt they look shaky to start the season, and all this talk might be foolish. I don't think Klay Thompson should come off the bench at all at this point, but if the team is struggling through the mid-way point of the season and Thompson still can't find his shot . . . it might be something to ponder over.