Catch-and-shoot 3: Klay Thompson. Peanut butter: jelly. These things go together exceptionally well. Yet in the postseason, the first of these two pairs has dipped in potency.
One of Thompson’s greatest attributes is his quick trigger, his ability to get a shot off before a contest even materializes; his 7.3 3-point attempts per game before even dribbling once is a testament to his regular season hair-trigger. In the postseason, though, Thompson is only getting off 4.5 of such shots per game.
Thompson is still getting the ball delivered from his favorites, Draymond Green and Stephen Curry, but he’s touching the ball 14.3-percent less in the postseason; and he’s getting passed to about 18-percent less, too — from nearly 40 passes in the regular season to about 32 in the postseason, according to NBA.com/Stats. A pressured sniper with limited ammunition, Thompson’s shooting numbers have fallen because he’s not getting the ball as much as he’s used to.
In the regular season, Golden State’s fluid, fast-passing offense allowed Thompson to shoot more than 5 0-percent of his shots either “open” or “wide-open,” per NBA.com/Stats. The playoffs have been a different story. Thompson had attempted almost half of his shots when there was defender between 2-4 feet from him — or as the NBA regards it: “tight” defense — in the postseason. He’s been shooting in a phone booth.
Both Curry and Kevin Durant have been forced into tighter defense as well, but their shooting hasn’t been as affected as Thompson’s.
When Kevin Durant joined the Warriors, there was the narrative that there wouldn’t be enough ball to go around between Curry, Durant, and Thompson. That wasn’t the case. Curry played well; Durant was stellar and, most of all, Thompson got his to the tune of 17.6 shots per game in the regular season — virtually equal to his 17.3 shot per game in 2015-16, when Durant was still in Oklahoma City. The same can’t be said for Thompson’s postseason.
Thompson is shooting 20-percent less in the playoffs, from 17.6 field goal attempts in the regular season to 13.9 in the playoffs. Last season, Thompson actually saw an uptick in his field goal attempts in the playoffs, from 17.3 attempts to 18.9. The numbers look even more jarring when considering the per-game point totals; from averaging 22.3 points in the regular season to 14.4, Thompson’s point production has fallen off a cliff.
Making it all weirder, the rest of Golden State’s roster isn’t exactly shooting more, either. Most of the of guys (Green, Andre Iguodala, Ian Clark, Zaza Pachulia, David West, etc.) — within a few tenths of a point — have maintained their regular season field goal attempts. Coupled with the Warriors’ smaller playoff rotation, it seems, if anything, Thompson should be shooting more, as he did in last year’s postseason.
It looks like the Warriors are having trouble getting Thompson some of the easier buckets this time around. For one, Thompson’s attempts in transition are down, an area where he beamed with an effective field goal percentage of 65.2-percent on 3.4 attempts in the regular season, according to NBA.com/Stats. He’s now down to 2.3 attempts per game in transition, which is questionable considering Thompson’s proven accuracy in that arena.
Although a monster in his own right, Klay Thompson is still a player that relies on his teammates to get him good shots; whether through stout screens, zippy passing or getting to his spots in transition, 83.5-percent of Thompson’s made baskets — including 95.5-percent of his 3’s — were assisted on in the regular season. (Even Pachulia relies on his teammates’ passes less.) Holding true to Thompson’s postseason, that figure had fallen in the playoffs as well.
Whether Thompson’s offensive woes are an expected symptom, a difference in coaching ideology, or a casualty of the playoffs, if the Warriors want Thompson’s numbers to rebound they’re going to have to get him the ball more and produce better looks for him. Perhaps their Finals opponent’s generous defense can aid their efforts.