Maybe the best thing about Klay Thompson‘s so-called shooting slump is that it brings attention to how much he helps the Warriors in other ways. Like defense and rebounding. Thompson is first-rate at both and his efficiency in all aspects of basketball show in the stats. Thompson’s plus/minus ratio during these playoffs is better than anybody not named LeBron, Steph, Love, or Draymond according to Scott Howard-Cooper at NBA.com.
But perhaps even more than efficiency it’s Thompson’s versatility on defense that makes him uniquely valuable. He’ll not only guard LeBron James during this series, he’ll be charged in spots with keeping ball-handling magician Kyrie Irving in front of him. That’s a double order that no one else wants to purchase, yet Thompson looks forward to it:
“It’s a great challenge, obviously, guarding Kyrie Irving, LeBron, the other players. But those two guys in particular because they’re so good one-on-one. This is probably going to be my biggest challenge and I’m ready for it.”
Thompson will also likely have to guard J.R. Smith at times, a player who when hot from long range might just remind Thompson of himself a little bit. Given his assignments, Thompson’s potential foul trouble could be a stat to watch as the series goes on. He hasn’t been in foul trouble since picking up 5 fouls in Game 1 against the Spurs, but then the Warriors haven’t been in any kind of trouble either during these playoffs. This series should be different.