When putting the pieces together to make an extraordinary basketball team, one that will stand out amongst all of the talent in the NBA today, a general manager and coach must find players that all compliment each other to bring the team to play at its very best. Every team aspires to achieve this goal, and one team that has done this brilliantly, albeit fairly under the radar, is the Golden State Warriors. After assembling a team that won nearly fifty games last season, the Warriors have only improved their starting lineup by adding a force at small forward by acquiring Andre Iguodala from the Denver Nuggets. Not only does this move add a lot to the team as a whole, but it may help bring third year guard Klay Thompson’s play to a whole new level.
Thompson, the eleventh overall draft pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, started every single game last season for Golden State, and has a massive amount of potential that could definitely be brought out by playing alongside Iguodala, primarily on the defensive end of the floor. Many know Thompson purely for his shooting ability, as he has a career three-point field goal percentage of over forty percent, but he also offers a respectable hand on defense. Throughout last season, he was often tasked with guarding the top guard for the opposing team, and frequently filled this role as desired. However, Thompson has yet to truly lock down an elite guard on a large stage, and does not play consistent enough defense to truly be seen as a top notch defender.
Iguodala has the utmost potential to change that. Both when he was in Philadelphia and in Denver, Andre Iguodala was regarded as a great defensive forward, both on guarding whomever he was assigned to defend, and elevating his team’s overall defense. Should he carry this ability to the Bay, it will aid every player on the team, making the pressure on Thompson ease, and allow him to play more freely, and thus, better. Furthermore, the task of taking on the top offensive threat on the outside would not necessarily fall to him every night, but instead be divided, which could add a large amount of consistency to his overall play. If all of those elements come together as such, head coach Mark Jackson will be able to breathe much more easily, as he would have an exceptional starting five that can not only put up as many points as any other team – as they did last season – but have a defense that could make a huge leap forward and become well respected, if not great.
However, Thompson’s greatest strengths, as well as weaknesses, can be recognized on the offensive end of the floor. As was mentioned earlier, he is a sniper from beyond the arc, creating a deadly tandem with Stephen Curry that could, on any given night, erupt in a ferocious assault from long range. Longer two point shots also play a large part in Thompson’s arsenal, giving Golden State an exception outside attack to compliment one of the best rebounding units in the NBA. His weaknesses, though, lie closer to the basket. On shots between three and ten feet, his field goal percentage plummets to just over thirty percent, and anything closer than that he averages around fifty five percent, which is far from spectacular, especially considering his exceptional shooting stroke. Rebounding is also another weak point of his inside production, as his numbers in that regard are less than Stephen Curry’s, who generally plays further out and is not exactly a renowned rebounder
All in all, the 2013-14 season is an important one for Klay Thompson. He is surrounded by an elite group of players that all compliment each other well, especially if they mesh together well and have chemistry on their side. Much pressure will be lifted from his shoulders, but if he takes that for granted and relaxes too much at his position, it will create a large hole in both the offense and defense that would have to be replaced by Iguodala’s backup and last year’s starter at forward Harrison Barnes, who is capable of filling that gap should Thompson fail. But, if he adds elements to further strengthen his abilities on the basketball court, such as tightening up defensively and tapping into his potential at that end of the floor, producing from everywhere on the floor and not just outside and thus becoming a true scorer, and contributing to the team in ways that stats do not measure, then he could put himself out in the basketball world as a great player and give Golden State a look at a deep playoff run.