Klay Thompson is Overrated

Klay Thompson is a 5x All-Star, 2x All-NBA Player, named to the 2018-2019 All-Defensive Team, and is a 3x NBA Champion while maintaining the position of one of the NBA’s most lethal 3PT shooters with a career average of 41.9% from deep. He’s had many historical performances and games with 60, 52, 52, and 45 points with many more in the 30’s. With all that being said, Thompson still manages to be one of the most overrated players in the NBA.

Overrated does not mean that Thompson isn’t a good player, because he still is. He simply doesn’t play up to the expectations that he is often placed with – and this really came to light during his complaint by not making the an All-NBA team.

Thompson, part of the Warriors dynasty, has career averages of 19.5 PPG, 3.5 RPB, 2.3 APG with a 57.5 TS% and is widely known to be a historically elite shooter from 3PT, arguably the second-best to Steph Curry.

So in what sense is Klay overrated?

Focusing on the offensive side of the ball, Klay struggles to do many things other than perimeter shooting, in which he’s critically boosted by Curry’s impact on their system. The Warriors system is so heavily focused on Steph that it creates an environment in which Klay is able to be plugged in and perform his role as a shooter nearly to perfection, but this seems to be the end of it. When Steph is off the floor and the defenses actually focus on Klay, rather than having everyone watch Curry (due to his gravity), Klay becomes ineffective because he does not have the ability to create his own shot off the dribble at an efficient rate.

This is brought to light simply by how much of an impact Curry actually has on the team. Simply based on the importance of one in their respective roles, Curry & Draymond are more valuable to the Warriors’ dynasty than Klay Thompson has been. “In games without Stephen Curry since Klay joined the association, his on-court +/- is -2.4 per 100 and his TS% is 53.52% (2,913 minutes)” per pbpstats.

Other than shooting at an elite rate from beyond the arc, Thompson doesn’t do much else. For a volume shooter, he gets to the line at an awful rate, despite shooting 85% there for his career. To put this into perspective, here are some of the top shooting guards from last year with their career FGA and FTA.

  1. James Harden (10 yrs) – 16.2 FGA / 8.5 FTA
  2. Luka Doncic (1 yr) – 16.5 FGA / 6.7 FTA
  3. DeMar DeRozan (10 yrs) – 15.8 FGA / 6.3 FTA
  4. Devin Booker (4 yrs) – 16.9 FGA / 5.4 FTA
  5. Donovan Mitchell (2 yrs) – 18.5 FGA / 4.4 FTA
  6. Victor Oladipo (6 yrs) – 14.6 FGA / 3.9 FTA
  7. Bradley Beal (7 yrs) – 16.2 FGA / 3.8 FTA
  8. CJ McCollum (6 yrs) – 15 FGA / 2.6 FTA
  9. Klay Thompson (8 yrs) – 16 FGA / 2.3 FTA

On top of that, his passing in terms of assists is subpar as well, (I know APG isn’t the best usage of a player’s passing ability), but using those same players, here is how they rank out:

  1. James Harden – 6.2 APG
  2. Luka Doncic – 6 APG
  3. Devin Booker – 4.2 APG
  4. Victor Oladipo – 4 APG
  5. Donovan Mitchell – 3.9 APG
  6. Bradley Beal – 3.7 APG
  7. DeMar DeRozan – 3.4 APG
  8. C.J McCollum – 2.9 APG
  9. Klay Thompson – 2.3 APG

This is the same list of high-volume shooting guards that are able to showcase their passing ability, or lack of in some circumstances. Different roles and usage rate may factor into a basic APG stat, but does not change the fact that he’s at the bottom of the list when comparing some of the top volume shooting guards in today’s NBA.

Klay seems to greatly benefit from being a puzzle that fits perfectly into the Warriors’ offensive system, but tends to get a bit too much credit, especially on the next side of the ball.
Defense. Klay is seen to be an ELITE 3&D player, which is half correct. We’ve already established he can shoot the ball, but his defense has been very subpar, especially last season.

One main reason for this is that Klay avoids contact (which is evident in his FTA) and this impacts his ability to rebound the ball (which plays a role in many of the defensive ratings & stats, etc.) Using that same list of volume shooters, we’ll see how Klay measures up with his height and career RPG.

  1. Luka Doncic – 6’7”, 7.8 RPG
  2. James Harden – 6’5”, 5.2 RPG
  3. Victor Oladipo – 6’4”. 4.6 RPG
  4. DeMar DeRozan – 6’7”, 4.3 RPG
  5. Bradley Beal – 6’5”, 3.9 RPG
  6. Donovan Mitchell – 6’3”, 3.9 RPG
  7. Klay Thompson – 6’7”, 3.5 RPG
  8. Devin Booker – 6’6”, 3.5 RPG
  9. C.J. McCollum – 6’3”, 3.1 RPG

For a player listed at 6’7”, Klay’s desire to avoid contact really hurts his rebounding, but does this impact his defense? The most common statement for Klay is that he guards the opponents’ best player, which is accurate per the math at bballindex.com. “Klay’s assignment degree of difficulty is harder than it is for about 85% of players, only harder than 30% of players for Steph’s assignments”. Although this is true, it doesn’t change his impact that he’s placed on the court.

Over the final four teams in the playoffs this past year (GSW, TOR, POR, and MIL), Klay Thompson had the worst PIPM (both offense and defense) at a -2.97. For reference, Draymond and Curry had the best with +5.87 and +5.83 respectively. To branch just to the defensive side of things, Klay had the 3rd worst D-PIPM with a -1.54, only behind Lillard/ McCollum with -1.91 and -1.64 respectively. Giannis/Draymond led the way with +3.47 and +3.46.

Considering Klay is to be this “Elite” defensive player, it makes one wonder how a notoriously bad defender in Enes Kanter and even Steph Curry, the supposed poor defender that he is made out to be, can both have a positive D-PIPM throughout the Playoffs while Klay cannot. So, while Klay is taking on the tougher matchups, it doesn’t seem like much of an impact is actually happening on that end of the court.

Some other statistics I’ve found throughout the past season pertaining to Klay are below:
Of the NBA All-Stars, their PIPM from the beginning of the season til Feb. 1, 2019 was led by Giannis with a +6.5, with the lowest being Klay Thompson at a +0.0. The next closest was +1.1, which was LaMarcus Aldridge. This does not include Dirk/Wade who were added in and both had a negative PIPM.

As I pointed out a bit earlier, Klay seems to fit into their system pretty well, but that’s mainly in part due to the magnificent play of Steph Curry. Their teammate luck-adjusted on/off data is as follows:
Both on: 4,790 Possessions – 119.1 ORTG. 110.5 DRTG. +8.6 Net RTG
Steph Curry On: 1,905 Possessions – 120 ORTG. 112 DRTG. +7.9 Net RTG
Klay Thompson On: 2,370 Possessions – 109 ORTG. 112 DRTG. -2.9 Net RTG
Both Off: 1,360 Possessions – 109.9 ORTG. 108.1 DRTG. +1.9 Net RTG.
Curry’s job on the court just makes the game so much easier for everyone around him when he is playing. When he’s off the court, as we saw in the playoffs, teams focused much more on Thompson, which negated his impact tremendously.

Finally, because of this perception he receives and the loyalty side of things, Klay Thompson is on a VERY rough contract for GSW. Klay’s 5-year extension has him roughly at 37M per year. His projected OPIPM (1.19), DPIPM (-1.21) lead to PIPM (-0.03 because the other numbers are rounded in the models). His projected next year salary would be roughly 20M based on that, which is a -17M against Klay. PIPM has also determined that Klay has an awful 3.2% chance to provide equal or greater value in the next 5 years.

Am I saying Klay is bad? Of course not; but he’s madly overrated despite being an elite 3PT shooter. He just happens to fit right into the Warriors’ system with his ability to shoot the basketball. Thompson’s contribution to this Warriors’ dynasty of three championships cannot be forgotten in history, but the narrative and perception surrounding him could. He simply isn’t the player he’s portrayed to be.

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Sources from Twitter: bbstats, tim_nba, jacobegoldstein
Other stats: basketball reference

I feel that he is the perfect role player
He’s so good as a role player that he is all star quality, and worth his contract.

But he couldn’t be the main guy on a contender imo.

I saw one top 10 list of every position in nba history and they had Klay at 10 which I think is overrating him

Each person has their own view on a specific player, but the general consensus among the public/media is that his impact is much higher than it truly is.

I’ve always thought this. His game is nothing but curling and cuts around screens for open jumpers. I’m glad Toronto caught on to that and limited his performance. Doesn’t hurt having Curry & Durant to space you out.

Imagine if Rondo could bust 3’s like nothing or if Paul Pierce was a 7ft freak of nature SF? Even Garnett being able to shoot 3’s. That would be Ray Allen’s wet dream right there, and Klay pretty much got to live that dream these past few seasons.

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Let’s be honest Toronto didn’t do a great job on him

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Did we watch the same series? He averaged 26 a game and shot 60% from 3 in the 5 games he played. He was killing it in game 6 until he got hurt.

And he was quite often the main focus with steph, when there was no offense around them.

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These are the post we get when content is over.

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Yeah I don’t think I can call a guy whos hit 14 3s in a game and scored 60 in 3 quarters with 3 rings overrated. Doesn’t matter what the numbers say imo.

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And 37 points in a quarter

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Klay performs his specific piece in the Warriors’ system nearly to perfection in terms of shooting the ball from the 3.

Klay was having a solid series. Many times he got Gasol switched onto him though and couldn’t do much / demand the ball to do something.

You’re using career highs to explain a players’ career. All are historical moments nonetheless.

By this logic Kobe > Jordan

There’s just no reason to call him overrated. It’d be like calling pippen overrated. Klay has never been called the greatest player of all time or this or that. He’s just a great player. He plays his role, and he does it at a hall of fame level.
I firmly believe that you don’t actually watch basketball and you’re copying and pasting what you hear on espn. You can’t watch klay play in the playoffs and call him overrated. This team doesn’t have multiple championships without klay. The warriors are not a dynasty without klay.

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Klay is one of those players people tend to overrate. HEAVILY. Because expectations for him are not HIGH. So when he sucks 2-3 games in a row no one cares, but when he explodes for a game everyone be like: omg Klays so good i can’t even!

He is good, no doubt, just not THAT elite.

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People don’t understand that rebounding= defense. So if you don’t box out, dont get rebounds you conserve your energy which allows Klay to spend more energy guarding his man, that simple. So in a sense his defense is also a tad overrated.

Didn’t read post but topic is not out of pocket. I think Beal is a better SG than Klay and I’m pretty sure not many people would say that

Klay carry Curry and save him in many key games yet he the overrated one. Klay would dominate as a number one. I stop reading after u are compare assists when Klay barely has the ball.

Klay ain’t dominating as the primary focus of defenses every game

I believe he would dominate and wish he would of left GS show it.

He’s only ever played the same role on the same team and has been elite at that role.

Of the guys named in comparison a lot have played on different teams and have been in different systems which have required different roles.

I’m sure if Klay was required to be a distributor of the ball and or a slasher instead of shot maker he would be able to fit that role but he hasn’t needed to because of being playing the same role every year.

Plus in a era where defense is pretty much out the window for guards especially shooters I’m surprised none of the stats highlighted his defense in comparison to others apart from listing he was all defense at the beginning.

Klay defends better than any of the guard listed and does that better then their assist and rebound ratio.

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