Outside the fragile ankles of Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut, the biggest X-Factor for the Golden State Warriors in 2013 and beyond is Klay Thompson.
The only consistency Thompson has shown this season is his blank stares and slumped shoulders.
But just because I rail on Thompson’s body language, his shot selection and his decision-making doesn’t mean I dismiss his importance to the success of this team.
I’m just not sure at this moment if the Warriors would be better served by waiting for him to fulfill his potential or by cashing in on him in a trade to raise the ceiling of this roster.
Thompson hasn’t endeared himself to anyone. Sometimes it even seems like his own team — who seem to rally behind everyone else — hasn’t fully embraced him.
It doesn’t help when you hear reports —substantiated or not — that Thompson feels he should get more touches, or when his daddy does so publicly. All of the preseason Most Improved Player hype may have been the worst thing for him.
Just this week, Grantland.com published statistical analysis from STATS Inc. that shows Klay turns the ball over when he drives 16 percent of the time.
Of the 15 teams that use the STATS technology that allows them to track such data, that is the absolute worst turnover rate in the league. That article pretty much just confirmed the eyeball test most of us have been conducting.
There seems to be some sort of disconnect in what exactly Mark Jackson means when he says that Klay has the ultimate green light. Every single touch does not need to end in a shot.
And while we all want him to attack the rim more — despite the STATS numbers — his insistence on heaving up shots has made him the biggest lightning rod of criticism at Golden State since Antawn Jamison.
If Thompson learns his role and becomes a more efficient player, he could grow into a key contributor. If he doesn’t figure it out, his biggest contribution to the Warriors might be same as Monta Ellis’: Trade value.
Either Danny Ainge, Bill Simmons or both have queued up the trade machine to see how a Paul Pierce-Klay Thompson deal would work since Rajon Rondo went down. Pierce could actually make the Warriors’ a contender this year, but it would be a small window that is closing fast.
The Warriors have a perfect storm of potential coming on right now. They have competent management, more assets than they’ve had in decades and the ability to deal from a position of strength for the first time seemingly ever.
Using the trade machine is so much more fun when it’s done out of pleasure as opposed to the usual Golden State cocktail of panic, desperation and necessity.
For trade scenarios and more analysis, check out the complete, unabridged article on Trapped in Golden State.