In eight NBA seasons, Klay Thompson has shown his expert-level marksmanship. But has he done enough to be considered the 2nd-best shooter ever?
Since the 2014-2015 season, the Golden State Warriors have won three NBA Championships and 73 games during the regular season — 2015-16. While their historic run was not completely successful with two Finals losses, they still have the greatest shooting duo in NBA History, more commonly known as the Splash Brothers.
Year after year, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson light up the hardwood from beyond the arc, showcasing their god-like shooting abilities to the world. Now while Curry has already solidified himself as the greatest shooter in NBA history, can the younger Splash Brother become or has he already become the second-best shooter ever? The numbers are certainly in his favor.
Here are Klay’s career numbers: 19.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.5 blocks per game on a shooting line of .459/.419/.848.
Aside from being one of the leagues’ best two-way players each season, Klay has continued to show his remarkable shooting ability from anywhere on the floor. His smooth jumper can be heavily relied upon in crunch time, which takes a massive amount of pressure away from Curry.
As of today, Klay is ninth among active players in 3-point field goals,16th in NBA history, and 14th in 3-point percentage (41.9). For a player who has played eight NBA seasons, Even amidst rehabbing from injury, Klay will surely reach top-five in each 3-point category by the time he retires.
Klay’s 37-point quarter against the Sacramento Kings in 2015 was the best offensive nine minutes in NBA history. He scored 37 out of 41 points for the Warriors during the third quarter of that game.
Klay finished the game with 52 points, 5 assists, 4 steals, 2 blocks, shooting 16-of-25 from the field, 11-of-15 from distance and 9-of-10 from the stripe. He was a +38 in just 32 minutes of playing time.
Not only did Thompson break the record for points in a quarter — previously set by George Gervin and Carmelo Anthony at 33 points — but he broke and tied a total of two more records that game. He set the record for 3-pointers made in that quarter, hitting nine in total (surpassing Michael Redd and Joe Johnson’s previous mark of eight — and tied a league record by hitting all of his 13 shots in that quarter.
Another one of Thompson’s incredible performances was scoring a career-high 60 points in 29 minutes of playing time against the Indiana Pacers in 2016. That’s not even three full NBA quarters. This scoring output has never been displayed in league history, as Klay became the first player in the shot clock era to put on such an unforgettable performance.
Klay’s stat line that night was 60 points — 40 in the first half — on 21-for-33 shooting from the field, 8-of-14 from beyond the arc and 10-for-11 from the free-throw line.
Additionally, Klay should also be considered one of the greatest pull-up shooters of all time, especially since he only dribbled eleven times during this 60-point performance and had possession of the basketball for only 90 seconds.
One other incredible skill that Klay has is the level of efficiency in catch-and-shoot plays. During the 2018-19 regular season, he ranked first in catch-and-shoot points — 735 total points — and second in catch-and-shoot threes made — 193 in total. By the end of the season, he made 42 percent of those shots in 78 appearances.
The last performance worth noting is when Klay scored 52 points in three quarters — 26 minutes — last season against the Chicago Bulls. He finished with 52 points and hit a record 14 3-pointers in 24 attempts in a 149-124 victory.
Klay took his performance to another level, surpassing Curry’s previous NBA record of 13 threes made in one game back in 2016. Any player that records multiple games with 10 or more made 3-pointers — as Thompson has done three times — in the NBA has to be automatically considered among one the greatest shooters of all time.
Above is Klay’s shot chart from the 2019 playoffs before his ACL injury. His most efficient results came from the top of the key (beyond the arc), shooting an insane 11-of-13 through twenty-one playoff games.
If Klay hadn’t torn his ACL midway through Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals, he likely would have helped the Warriors complete a three-peat and win his fourth championship ring.
The chart above shows Klay’s averages throughout the 2019 NBA Finals, where he posted a career-Finals best 26.0 points per game while shooting 54.1 percent from the field and an absurd 58.5 from beyond the arc. In five NBA Finals appearances, he has proven that he can shoot a high clip from the great beyond on the NBA’s biggest stage.
As Klay’s 2019 playoff shot chart showed, his career shot chart further solidifies just show efficient and deadly he has been throughout his career.
To go into further detail, Klay has shot over the league average on every spot on the hardwood throughout his career.
In the last five seasons, Klay has shown his ability to score in volumes and break multiple NBA records by playing just over half of an NBA game. Throughout his entire career, his shooting ability has given him a place among many 3-point records, which will increase in amount by the time he retires.
When Klay returns from his injury, It is highly unlikely that his extended absence hinders his exceptional shooting ability.
While Thompson may never be the number one option on the Warriors, he will continue to step up and play his role efficiently on both ends of the floor upon his return. With great certainty, the “other” Splash Brother will be considered the second-best shooter this league has ever seen, whether it is at this stage of his career or the end of it.