Can Chris Paul Solve the Massive Klay Thompson ‘Problem’ for the Warriors?
The Golden State Warriors started the season 6-2. There was a spread of elation among the millions of Dubs Nation members. Stephen Curry was red-hot and shooting the Warriors to win. Chris Paul’s assist-to-turnover ratio was openly flaunted as a determinant of winning the Jordan Poole trade. All looked as if it was going up and over until it crashed. In the last five games, the Warriors have lost four. Currently, they are painfully trying to tackle a losing streak. What happened to the mighty dynasty all of a sudden?
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The problem is that Curry has been isolated as the only capable scorer. It’s not that they don’t have the star power to elevate Curry’s gigantic production. The troubling reality is that none of them can match Curry’s fiery light. So far this season, not a single Warrior not named Steph Curry has eclipsed 20 points in a game. Klay Thompson is the bearer of the responsibility, but his efficiency has jumped into abysmal territory. This has left a major void in the offense. A former three-point engine has now become one of the worst shooting teams in the league.
The burning question is – can it be fixed?
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The lone Warrior Stephen Curry
The Baby Face Assassin is proving to be an ageless freak. Even at 35, his peak is growing. He started the season on historic grounds becoming the only player in history to hit 4 threes in the first ten games of the season. He hasn’t missed the benchmark to date. At this rate, he will surpass his 402 threes record set in 2016. Averaging 30.7 points per night, Curry is the frontal titan for this side.
Sadly, he is the only one fighting hope while attacking. At least that’s been true for the first 11 games of the season. He is the essence of the Warriors offense. Once he sits, it’s the death. Without him, the offense seems to be in discourse with no threatening guys on the floor. The stinging fact has allowed opposition defenses to go all-in on Curry and gamble on the second guy taking the shot. These are concerning times for the 2022 champions. And the root of the problem is undoubtedly yet ironically, the two-time MVP’s most trusted shooting partner and another Warrior veteran.
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Klay Thompson is coming up short
With the loss of Jordan Poole, Thompson’s role became significantly more vital than it ever was. They lost their bench strength to score without Curry, leaving the onus to Klay. As one of the longest-tenured players in the Warriors, it is his moral duty to stand up alongside Curry. This season, he is lagging way behind. Thompson is averaging 16.7 points, a decent output considering his career average. However, his efficiency has taken his status from a three-point threat to an occasional shot-maker.
He is converting 38%, a respectable number for an everyday NBA player, but not for a shooting specialist. In the last four games, he is shooting only 26.87%, a drastically terrifying drop. If there is any hope for the Golden State Warriors to wake up again, it will heavily depend on Klay Thompson’s form. If he gets over the slump and can become a threat again, it will provide Curry the relaxation he needs in the game.
On the contrary, if Thompson’s shooting nightmares continue, it will spell doom for the Bay.
Is Chris Paul the answer?
With Thompson’s shortcomings, Dub Nation has started to wonder whether a change is due. And naturally, given the record, some tough decisions are in order. One of the more popular ones is replacing the sharpshooter with Chris Paul. Before even wearing a Warriors uniform, doubts were raised about CP3 and Curry’s her. A few pickup runs and practice sessions had the former nemesis speak highly of each other. Curry even hinted at the partnership being fun. It has proven to be right thus far.
Stephen Curry plays a game of chess with his defender on most possessions. He will give the rock away and start running until there is a window for the Warriors to run their play. One hard screen and Curry finds himself with enough space to line up the seams. At first, Draymond Green took care of finding the Chef. Green is a phenomenal playmaker to be fair to him, however, Chris Paul is arguably the best ever to do so. With ‘Point God’ at the helm, it has made Curry’s job easier and Warriors basketball much more fun.
The veteran has embraced the role of the bench to give life to the second unit and at times provide aid to the starting unit. His 6.6 assists off the bench are the most in the NBA today. Paul makes the team better. It’s not just his latest stint, but even history runs in line with his uplifting impact. So if he makes them better, and makes life convenient for Curry, can Paul replace Thompson?
The answer is no. Yes, Chris Paul has been exceptional as a playmaker off the bench. But he has no gas as a scorer. Known as a midrange assassin, Paul is shooting 36.8% from the field and an embarrassing 16% from three. He might be able to involve Curry, but if he takes Thompson’s place that will add an even greater responsibility on the shooting marksman. Chris Paul’s failure to shoot the ball is probably the major reason Steve Kerr hasn’t already considered replacing him with Klay Thompson. Even with the added bonus of his synergy with Stephen Curry, the latter will be hounded by defenders to a much more severe degree with Paul as the next shooter.
What can be done to help Steph Curry?
There are two ways the Warriors can get out of this miserable slump. The first is for Andrew Wiggins to begin taking on the role of a scorer of Klay Thompson. Like him, Wiggins has been appalling as even a third-option scorer for the Warriors. His game seems much in the post, where he hasn’t found loads of success. Additionally, his three-point shooting is subpar to start the season. Wiggins, a crucial member of the 2022 championship run is averaging a career low in points. His defense remains to be sublime allowing the Warriors to at least stay competitive in recent games. However, it’s high time Wiggins begins to demand more shots, and even more importantly, start playing with the confidence he had in the 2022 NBA finals.
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The second way is to limit Kay Thompson’s minutes with the bench duo of Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody. They both came to the Warriors together and this postseason showcased their improvements. Kuminga has become a reliable shooter and uses his physical gifts to bully his way to the rim. His development needs to be capitalized on by the Warriors. His numbers are equally as disappointing as Klay’s, but there is much more potential in the 6’7″ forward. Moody, on the other hand, a true guard replacement is only seeing the floor for 17 minutes. In that time, he is averaging 6.8 points per game while shooting 34% from deep. It isn’t the best, but it still ranks among the top in the Warriors camp.
While these methods may work, the most effective and hopeful alternative for the franchise remains Klay Thompson finding his way back. When his shots are falling, the game becomes a symphony. There might not be a more lethal shooter than him, at times even Stephen Curry can only watch in awe. His beautiful motion, even in times of slump makes it seem like each shot is going in. It’s hard for him to not evoke such a thrill of emotions, after all, he is a splash brother. And once you learn to shoot, you can never unlearn it.
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Do you think the Golden State Warriors will discover their true strengths? Let us know in the comments below.