Klay Thompson splashes into MVP mix

When Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson was told that teammate Andre Iguodala thought he wore down towards the end of last season, Thompson was at a loss for words.

After a few moments filled with umms and ahhs, Thompson said:

“Yeah, I don’t think I wore down last season. I thought I was great.”

Technically, Iguodala may have been right. He definitely is from a statistical stance, though it’s only because Thompson’s first half was beyond prolific. The fact that the 25-year-old is coming off of his rookie contract, too, just adds fuel to a conversation that is looming.

Is Klay Thompson the 2015-2016 NBA MVP?

It’s not unlikely, and would be almost certain if Thompson could play exclusively on Friday nights, where he averaged over seven attempts from beyond the arc last season, hitting almost 53 percent of them.

<strong>WARRIORS 2015 ::</strong> Golden State faces steep climb to second ring. WARRIORS 2015 :: Golden State faces steep climb to second ring.

While Rockets shooting guard James Harden said this offseason he believes he was the most deserving MVP candidate, the numbers tell a tale that might make Houston’s star want to shave for once.

In five fewer minutes per game last year, Thompson shot 46 percent from the field, 43 percent from deep, averaged over three boards per game, one steal and nearly one block.

Harden, a volume scorer, shot 44 percent, 37 percent from three point land, 5.7 rebounds, seven assists, and two steals per game.

Absolutely nothing to scoff at from either, but the name of the game, any game, is to score points and prevent the opponent from scoring points.

Thompson was the guy to body another team’s best offensive player, something Harden didn’t do. More importantly, though, the shooting numbers say Thompson was simply better.

<strong>WARRIORS 2015 ::</strong> Warriors ready to stop talking and start playing. WARRIORS 2015 :: Warriors ready to stop talking and start playing.

Harden’s edge was his combo guard status, a point guard who slashed his way to the rim if no clear outlet was available. He played with the elite big in the NBA, Dwight Howard, and had a supporting cast that helped Houston to a deep playoff run versus extreme competition.

What’s scariest for the rest of the league, though, is that Thompson appears to be nowhere near his peak, certainly according to forward Draymond Green:

“He’s one of those guys. Klay, he’s 25, and I think he can continue to get better as well, and I think he’s going to continue to get better.”

Iguodala added:

“He’s going to understand how to make the game easier for himself so he doesn’t burn out in February and March. I’m definitely looking forward to continue to build with him. He really only can take a step forward coming from where he left off a bit.”

Though Thompson scoffs at Iguodala’s remarks about flaming out, the numbers still side with the veteran. Thompson’s three-point clip fell from 44 percent prior to the All-Star break to 39 percent in March.

The exception is that Thompson’s shooting bounced back to 48 percent from long range in April.

What’s more impressive about Thompson’s 2014-2015 season was his selfless play — the Warriors spread the ball around well, which led to Golden State’s starting five into the conversation for best of all time.

Said Thompson:

“Individually, I don’t really set any goals for myself. The only goal I have for myself are to come in every day, not take any days off, not take any days for granted, just try to prove every day. Practice and games. That’s what I did last year, and I was able to get some great Individual accolades, but even better, you sacrifice for the team. We do only have one common goal, and that’s to hoist that Larry O’Brien again.”

Thompson certainly did that last season.

During the Warriors’ championship run, Thompson was nearly as productive in the playoffs as he was during the regular season.

44.6 percent from the field, 39 percent from the arc, with 3.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists, and averaging 36 minutes per game. All while staying out of foul trouble and guarding the NBA’s elite scorers.

Which, aside from assists and rebounding, elements outside of Thompson’s overall role, crap all over Harden’s numbers from last postseason.

Watch out, NBA. Thompson could be destined to be crowned NBA MVP very soon.


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow@SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Golden State Warriors.