During the 2017 NBA Finals coverage, we are paying so much attention to the legacy of LeBron James and the scrutiny Kevin Durant will receive if he doesn’t win this year’s Finals, but audiences around the United States should focus more on Klay Thompson.
Thompson, a 2x All-NBA player, averaged 11 points in Western Conference Finals versus the Spurs. He only attempted 19 three-pointers and seven free throws. Clearly, he has to return to his old ways if Golden State wants to capture its second championship in three years, even if that means having Durant pass up shots and become more of a passer.
With James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving scoring at will during the 2017 playoffs, the Warriors will need their full complement of scorers and we all know how Thompson can light up an NBA Court once he gets on a roll. We witnessed Thompson score 28 points or more 18 times during this past regular season, including a 60 point game against Indiana.
The defense of Klay Thompson will be an enormous factor in this series; it will be so big it will make Kobe’s ego look like a cookie crumb. Not only will Mr. Thompson have to slow down Kyrie Irving, but he’ll need to shut down Kyle Korver, J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert (shouldn’t be overlooked either) if given an opportunity to do so in this series.
With James defending KD, Irving matching point for point with Curry and Draymond Green attacking Kevin Love, Thompson will have to show his inner Monstar in this year’s NBA Finals. Mike Brown would be wise to put the ball in Klay’s hands early and often, especially since the Cavs are loaded with three-point snipers and a better bench.
Obviously, Durant, James, and Curry will be heavily criticized if they have bad moments, but Thompson shouldn’t be let off the hook either. This is one of the best players in the game and he can’t afford to wilt underneath the pressure and expect people to not even notice. There will be times when KD and Curry are finding it difficult to score the basketball and so when Thompson’s number is called he’ll need to take that big shot to kick-start the momentum in Golden State’s favor. If he doesn’t do anything in this year’s NBA Finals then how will this impact his worth to the Warriors in seasons to come? How big of a hit will his reputation take if he doesn’t play well?
Sure the spotlight is primarily on the big three in Cleveland and the Curry-KD combo in Golden State, but when you watch the Finals from opening tip to the confetti drop ask yourself this: Is Klay Thompson doing everything that he’s supposed to do in this series? If the answer is yes and Golden State struggles a lot in this series then maybe Thompson will be overworked and that alone will raise some serious questions in Oakland.